Sarina Wiegman: Lionesses coach a proven winner, says Kelly Smith
Incoming England boss Sarina Wiegman “is a proven winner” and “one of the top managers in the world”, says former Lionesses striker Kelly Smith.
Wiegman will succeed Phil Neville as England’s head coach in September 2021.
The 50-year-old has signed a four-year deal and will take charge after the postponed Tokyo Olympics next summer.
“It’s her and [former USA head coach] Jill Ellis who are probably up there competing to be the number one,” Smith told BBC Sport.
“It’s a brilliant appointment.
“I like the way Wiegman sets her teams up. They are very difficult to beat. She has a good tactical knowledge of the game and I believe she will share that with all the England players.”
Wiegman’s tally of 43 wins is the most by any manager of the Netherlands men’s or women’s teams.
- A coach ‘who tells players the truth’
‘The job that everyone wants’
Wiegman led the Netherlands to their first major trophy in 2017 when they won the European Championship on home soil with victory over Denmark in the final.
She also guided them to last summer’s World Cup final, where they were beaten by defending champions the United States.
Baroness Campbell, the Football Association’s director of women’s football, said she was the “number one choice”.
“Wiegman has got a lot of experience because she played the game too,” former England midfielder Katie Chapman told BBC Sport. “She knows how to be a winner.
“Her teams are always special to watch. It will be refreshing and I’m excited to see her work.
“In the past there might have been people with less managerial experience, so I think she will bring that into the team.”
It was reported 142 people had applied for the role, which Smith says shows how “sought after the England job is”.
“With the resources and the backing that the FA have put into it now, it’s probably the job that everyone wants because they can sense something happening around the team,” she added.
“The calibre of players we have suggests it’s only a matter of time before we win a tournament.”
‘WSL is best league in the world’
Smith believes the Women’s Super League is now “the best league in the world” after an influx of world-class talent.
American World Cup winners Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle have joined Manchester City, after Australia international Sam Kerr arrived at Chelsea in November.
“The level of play now seems to be getting better and better every year,” said Smith.
“All the top players want to come here and perform. It wasn’t like that a few years ago. Everybody wanted to leave and go over to America but now it seems that Americans want to play in this league, which is brilliant.”
Chapman added: “The WSL is drawing in top, top players from around the world. It’s becoming more competitive. You’re seeing teams getting better.
“The lower teams in the league are attracting better players now too, so the standard is improving all the time.”
Chapman and Smith are playing in Soccer Aid for Unicef 2020, which is taking place in September at Old Trafford, live on ITV and STV.
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