England Women’s Football in 2014 and what to expect in 2015.
Inspired by Izzy’s fantastic article about ‘What happened in Brazilian women’s soccer in 2014 and what to look forward to in 2015’, I thought I would have a go at sharing England Women’s National Team’s journey through 2014 and what we can expect for 2015!
2014 has seen huge growth for women’s football in England, both domestically and internationally. The performance in 2014 has made the nightmare Euro 2013 appearance seem like a distant memory. An unfortunate experience for the players and fans but a much needed one to force the much needed action to bring in a new coach who has the vision and ability to take England forward.
England’s achievements with new coach Mark Sampson:
Although officially appointed at the end of 2013, it was not until January 2014 that Mark Sampson began his work. His first task was selecting a squad for a training camp in La Manga, and his first selection did not disappoint. We saw the return of Lianne Sanderson and the call up of Jodie Taylor, who had been overlooked for far too long.
The Cyprus Cup 2014 was the first real test for England and they had a great tournament. England won all of their matches finishing top of Group A above Canada, and were only finally defeated in the Final against France.
We witnessed a perfect qualification campaign for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 for England.
Defeating Sweden 4-0 in an international friendly… I remember England played Sweden just before the Euro 2013 competition and we were thrashed 4-0 (I think that was the scoreline) and we looked on a whole different level. Just months later the tables have turned and England seem a completely different team who looked so impressive as they sought their revenge.
Overall, I think the achievements of Mark Sampson’s appointment is that the squad appear a lot happier, anyone who is playing well for their clubs have a chance of a call-up from Sampson, which is exactly what happened to Fran Kirby in 2014. England’s playing style is a lot more positive, they are more comfortable on the ball and more creative. Of course England will still have matches that will test them, the Germany friendly for example, but I feel they learn from these matches now and don’t appear negative or defeated.
As the International set-up thrives, the league set-up has a wobble:
2014 saw a surprising turn when it was announced that the English Women’s Premier League would be dissolved and there would not be pyramid structure in our English women’s leagues any more! The decision was an unwelcome one, and was quickly challenged. It took months of debating, pleading and discussions and thankfully the decision was overturned. Also taken on board by The FA was the inclusion of a second tier to the WSL and eventually a connection to the Premier League – something I know the WSU members suggested soon after the launch of the WSL. When the WSL was first formed, I think it was inspired by the USA’s WPS league (which was the professional league before the NWSL). They created a league of elite teams that competed against each other but it lacked the competitiveness of fighting for survival and avoiding relegation, etc. This took away the excitement and the league had the danger of becoming boring and repetitive. 2014 saw the first year that a second tier to the league was introduced and promotion/relegation could occur, the result of which was a very exciting season with many twists and turns.
What to expect in 2015:
On a domestic level, I think we can expect our English leagues to continue to gain popularity (both with fans attending games as well as audiences watching TV broadcasts), no doubt we will attract more world class players such as Yuki Ogimi and deliver another exciting, competitive season where anything can happen… Will Arsenal be able to climb their way back to the top? Can Liverpool earn their third successive league win? Will Man City and Chelsea’s new signings be the key to their success?
For the England Women’s National team, I am full of excitement for the opportunities that lay ahead in 2015.
International friendly against USA in February – A fantastic test for England, following on from their earlier friendly match against Germany, in which they were beaten but would have learnt so much from the fixture. The friendly against USA will be a very interesting one as USA over 2014 have not appeared as their ‘normal’ dominating selves and I think the fear factor of facing USWNT is beginning to fall… Saying that I am a huge fan of the USWNT and you can never underestimate them.
Cyprus Cup 2015 – England are one of 12 teams competing in this competition, they are previous winners and have a great chance to win the trophy. But, more importantly, they can use this competition as preparation for the main event in the summer. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the outcome of this tournament as I believe a lot of teams will be using this to fine tune tactics.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 will be the main event of the year, and I really think England are real contenders for the trophy. They have a great group (Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico) – even if they have trouble against France they will still progress from the Group stage. More importantly, England have the passion and desire to win. They have experienced heartache and they are determined to overcome and reap the rewards.
So, this is my take on England’s 2014 and my hopes for 2015. As Izzy said, we would love to hear about your views about your countries progression. WSU member or not you can just email your articles to the team.
Finally, in my opinion… Germany have had the most successful 2014 in terms of achievement and Trinidad and Tobago have had the most successful 2014 in terms of development and progression of the women’s game – and winning global fans!
Former Brighton and Hove Albion and Sussex footballer. Working with Women’s Soccer United to increase awareness and promote the female game to a global audience.