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Day 19: It's time to stop thinking about Sarina
The Netherlands need to stop looking longingly at their ex
Listen, no one wants to go through a break up and then see your ex thriving without you. Especially when you are at an international tournament and your ex has got a new set of girlfriends and they are the host nation and doing quite well. But sometimes you just need to let it go and move on. Unfortunately, the Netherlands have seemed incapable of not thinking about Sarina Wiegman.
The 2017 Euros winners exited Euro 2022 to France last night in a game where at points it felt like they might snatch a win but in truth they never deserved to. It has been a tough tournament for the Dutch who have been impacted by a seemingly never ending list of injuries and COVID-19. They have been forced to bring in a number of debutants, many of whom have played promisingly, but it is undeniable that it is not what Mark Parsons would have planned.
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Which brings us to the Wiegman problem. Under Wiegman, the Dutch went supersonic, helped in part by the peak age of a number of fantastic players. They went from having only reached the semi-finals of a major tournament once (Euro 2009) to winning their home Euros and making the final of the World Cup two years later. Wiegman turned the Dutch into serious contenders within European football, and it is right for the team to expect to stay that way.
But there are also changes that sides are forced to go through. Transition periods. Wiegman was appointed as England manager back in August 2020 but stayed on to manage the Dutch at their first ever Olympics. It was clear then that something wasn’t quite right, as they eventually went out on penalties to the USA. Good times don’t last forever.
Appointing Mark Parsons also came with its own problems as he was unable to join up with the team until November. We all know that managers get a very limited amount of time with their squads and there were even concerns in England that Wiegman had come in too late when she started her job in September. On top of that two players who Parsons would be hoping would be essential to his squad in Lieke Martens and Danielle van de Donk have missed large portions of the season through injury. The pieces he has been working with have fluctuated considerably over the past nine months.
Given all this, it is concerning how many rumblings of discontent there already are around the Dutch camp. Jill Roord supposedly did not start in this game against France off the back of her comments in a Dutch newspaper, complaining about the length of Parsons’ meetings and the amount of questions he asks. There were strong comments too from Anouk Hoogendijk on the BBC.
This Dutch side has a whole host of young talent as I wrote about earlier in the month. It is going to take time to integrate the younger players and figure out how to move on some of the older players. This tournament has not shown this team at their best but it also feels like they have written off Mark Parsons before he has even begun. They now have to turn their attention to securing World Cup qualification in September. Somehow they need to all get back to ‘running together’...