International teams undergoing a ‘transition period’ are teams in an era of change. Side effects of the transition include the faltering of form or a widespread disconnect on the field. Transition periods either come from an abrupt change in squad members (i.e. a large group of players retire or fall out of form) or a change in manager.
For some teams, the transition period is a prolonged excuse for inadequate squad selections, wavering tactics and lack of player-management. For the head coaches at this Euros final, an extended transition period simply does not exist.
Buying into the game plan
Sarina Wiegman has been unbeaten since taking her post with England last September. This includes games against Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
The Dutch coach created a comfortable atmosphere within her camp during the Euros, where players focus on the game plan and reduce outside pressures. Rare glimpses of the Lionesses that could have been are now the norm. England are world class and are not afraid to show it. A creative and free-flowing structure brings out the best in a starting 11 of vastly different playing styles.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg takes a different approach that some may label as quintessentially German. A fearless, composed and precise performance turned Germany into favourites from the second the final whistle blew against Denmark. Their 4-0 defeat of the 2017 runners-up foreshadowed solid wins against Spain, Finland, Austria and France.
Voss-Tecklenburg is at the helm, steering the German ship towards her fifth Euros title.Embed from Getty Images
Without time to properly make her mark on the side, Voss-Tecklenburg opted to use the 2019 World Cup as experience for younger players. Klara Bühl, Lena Oberdorf and Giulia Gwinn are all in the starting 11 for Germany this Euros. Gwinn, the oldest, was 19 at the time of the World Cup.
The pre-emptive selection of players under the age of 20 is common for most head coaches. The difference for Wiegman and Voss-Tecklenburg is that players under 20 are fully integrated into the squad. Younger players are not simply there to train and watch, but to play and compete.
Leah Williamson captains the England squad at age 25, during her first international tournament for England where she will receive significant minutes.
For these coaches, the hierarchy of age does not exist. Players with individual accolades and proven success are not guaranteed to start.Embed from Getty Images
The teams in transition
Spain has been in a transition period since Ignacio Quereda was fired in 2015.
Spain crashed out of the Euros in 2017 in the quarter-finals and went out in the quarters again during the World Cup in 2019. The consensus was that Spain were taking time to build up properly after their ordeal with Quereda. No such luck.
Without Alexia Putellas and Jenni Hermoso, Spain found themselves in transition yet again at Euro 2022. They lost in the quarters against England and coach Jorge Vilda will remain until 2024.
The Netherlands were picked up by Mark Parsons following the departure of Wiegman. Daniëlle van de Donk and Jill Roord made striking comments about Parsons when asked why their transition had not gone to plan.Embed from Getty Images
Roord compared Parsons to Wiegman, stating that he holds longer discussions that do not grab the team’s attention and he is used to the American style of coaching. When asked whether Mark Parsons should continue as the Netherlands manager Van de Donk replied: “We’ll see.”
Good managers find ways to lessen periods of discomfort and change. Wiegman and Voss-Tecklenburg are two of the very best. As the women’s game continues to progress, may more managers continue to debunk the myth of the prolonged transition period.