Reshmin Chowdhury column: Sarina Wiegman makes right Ellen White call as Beth Mead shows world-class desire

·3-min read
Reshmin Chowdhury column: Sarina Wiegman makes right Ellen White call as Beth Mead shows world-class desire

They say form is temporary, class is permanent — and Ellen White showed that with her goals last night.

There was a lot of pressure on her coming into this tournament and, maybe unfairly, quite a bit of criticism, too. Last season was really difficult for Manchester City, with a multitude of injuries at the start, and she only scored four goals in the WSL. Then she didn’t play in England’s last two warm-up games because she had Covid.

Managers aren’t sentimental — Sarina Wiegman certainly isn’t — and they’re not going to just stick with players on previous performances. But with someone like Ellen, you know she’s going to be so reliable in that role. She scored six at the last World Cup and six at the Olympics. Yes, she hasn’t been in form, but everyone knows what she can do.

In Pictures | Women’s Euro 2022 (Group A) : England v Norway

Competition for places is a good thing if you’re Wiegman and there was a strong case for Alessia Russo starting this tournament, but I like the fact that she kept the faith with Ellen.

Leading the line at a home Euros brings a lot of pressure — and if you’ve got the experience, you can handle it better. Alessia is probably having her breakout year at the moment. She has all the promise in the world, but when you’ve got someone like Ellen you just can’t leave her out, because you know she will rise to the occasion.

Look at her first goal last night — it’s the hunger to score. That is her saying: “I don’t care, I’m getting that ball in the back of the net.” That’s what Ellen can do, she’s ruthless.

With Beth Mead, it’s almost been the opposite in terms of her form this season. She’s been a dream to watch, right from day one. I was at the Emirates when Arsenal played Chelsea on the opening day and she scored an absolute worldie. Now she’s putting away hat-tricks at the Euros almost a year on.

She’s taken it upon herself to be the best player she can be and she’s gone to another level. She’s so talented and I really admire the fact that it’s come from a place of adversity. She was so disappointed to be left out of the Olympics, but she just thought, ‘I’m better than this.’ I love that, I love that elite mentality of people who have that belief and desire to be and do better.

Wiegman now has a decision to make about rotating her side against Northern Ireland, but I think you should always play your best team.

Let Beth go out and try and get the Golden Boot, let Ellen go and break Wayne Rooney’s all-time scoring record for England. Why not? You want your players feeling at their peak, feeling almost invincible when they go into that quarter-final. That’ll be a tough game, but their rivals will all be looking at England now.

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