England need the fans to rally behind them at Euro 2022 and bully their opponents | Women’s Euro 2022
JTournament football is all about momentum. England have a great chance of building quickly at Euro 2022, starting in front of a packed house at Old Trafford against Austria on July 6. A loud and intimidating atmosphere throughout the tournament can help Sarina Wiegman’s side secure the host nation triumph.
As a nation we saw what happened with the great support of the England men’s team last summer. Fans need to replicate that for the women, to bring that extra bit of motivation to the team. If you think back to the Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands, the local crowd was magnificent. behind his team from the first game to the last.
I remember playing in the semi-finals – it was daunting, which really helped them and worked against England. The atmosphere they created was epic and the Dutch team won the tournament under Wiegman. England need to make it intimidating for the opposition but positive for our team – who should have nothing to fear – because it could be the difference in close games.
England shouldn’t demand so much extra motivation, with a potential final at Wembley a target for all involved. It’s something they’re unlikely to question. When I was growing up it was every boy’s dream to play at Wembley – now we show anyone can dream of playing there. If this team can win a major tournament at home, it will change the life of the team and the sport.
For players in the English locker room, no need to dwell on the incentive. If you don’t have that, you shouldn’t be in elite sport. Everyone knows what’s at stake and the team needs to tap into that emotion.
A win against Austria will be the perfect start for England after months of preparation, as well as mounting pressure on a team amid all the publicity. They will want to take maximum points against a team they should beat on paper, especially with a tricky clash against Norway in Brighton for their second game. There is evidence to show that teams may not win the first game and win a tournament, but starting well is important.
The first game is always difficult – regardless of the opposition. You want to do it and dust it off while you get to work. It’s all about building step by step to make sure you’re ready to peak at the right time in the six-game structure. You have to start off on the right foot because everyone is going to be watching. The waiting home fans will look for inspiration, while rival teams will look for their weaknesses.
Wiegman knows what it’s like to win as a manager in a home tournament. She knows how to manage crowds, pressure and expectations. She has a winning mentality and has been working to develop a culture of success within the England team since taking charge in January 2021. I have met her on several occasions and have been very impressed.
I remember when England were criticized for beating teams in World Cup qualifiers by huge margins – including a 20-0 win over Latvia – and then came out saying that wanted more – that’s the mark of an elite leader. I would love to put my boots on and play for one of her sides, she’s so good. I think England have a good one there.
Ultimately, however, an English manager is judged on major international tournaments. England can get through qualifying with ease and get through a few games with ease, and winning the Arnold Clark Cup in February gave them a great platform to build on – but what matters is the here and now .
In the last World Cup in 2019, England got to the semi-finals but after that they regressed. They are back in a rebuilding phase under Wiegman, and she has brought in a younger generation of players. Half of this team has never participated in a Euro before. Younger players will have to rely on the experienced members of the squad, as well as the manager, for guidance in order to nurture them.
Wiegman doesn’t seem to have changed much within the setup, but she has made the team more solid defensively. I don’t expect too many problems at the back with quality defenders like Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood. In midfield, Keira Walsh and new captain Leah Williamson can also sit up front to add a little extra protection.
Where I foresee problems, however, is finding the objectives required to win a tournament. Ellen White is a record-breaking striker, but she relies heavily on getting the right serve. I fear that without Fran Kirby fit enough to play 90 minutes, England could miss out on their natural creativity and much of the pressure to trigger something will naturally fall on Lauren Hemp.
The Manchester City winger is still only 21 and will have to deal with some teams that overtake her. If they succeed, White’s serve could be choked out. Beth Mead will also be key in creating chances, but I think England can be a little straight at times.
Kirby hasn’t played for his club, Chelsea, since February but has been included in the squad. She has the ability to open teams, drift in and out of areas, and be a bit more dynamic. Set pieces will be important – and England are strong on delivering dead balls – but from open play there could be some issues.
This summer should be the celebration of women’s football. If the England team arrives at Wembley, there will be so many people cheering them on, since the women’s game was banned in England. As a player, you always want to leave the jersey in a better place than where you found it. Becoming European champion would be a great way to set things up for the next generation.