England women’s football team have sunk to eighth in the FIFA World Rankings, their lowest position in eight years, ahead of Sarina Wiegman’s appointment as manager.
The former Netherlands chief Wiegman, 51, will take over as boss in September, following the disappointing denouement of predecessor Phil Neville’s tenure.
Neville, struggling with what he admitted were ‘unacceptable’ performances, announced in April 2020 he would leave when his contract expired this summer, before resigning and leaving early to become Inter Miami manager in January.
Norwegian Hege Riise took temporary charge, leading the side through three friendlies, winning the first 6-0 against Northern Ireland in February but losing 3-1 against France and 2-0 against Canada in April.
New boss Wiegman, the No 1 target after beating the 141 other applicants, signed a four-year deal in August 2020 to take over from next month allowing her to lead the Oranje at the Tokyo Olympics.
She said in 2020: ‘I am delighted and honoured to join England Women. England is the cradle of football and the major developments in women’s football globally over recent years have been led by the FA.
‘I’m very much looking forward to contributing my experience and expertise to this ambitious team.’
Although she has an impressive 73.7 per cent win ratio as Netherlands boss, winning the 2017 European Championship and reaching the final of the 2019 World Cup, Wiegman will have her work cut out for her.
Whereas the Lionesses sat at second in the rankings three years ago, only behind the formidable United States, they have now dropped below Canada and are just one ahead of North Korea.
Key midfielder Jill Scott is 34, captain Steph Houghton 33 and talismanic striker Ellen White 32, meaning the new manager will have to ease the transition to a new generation of players as well as implement a new style of play.
Wiegman’s first game in charge comes against North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier at St Mary’s on September 17, before an away match against Luxembourg four days later.