Silvia Neid's head coaching career does not make for bad reading. One major tournament entered, one major tournament won – the FIFA Women's World Cup. Of course, Germany's victory in China last September was far from a surprise, and Neid had previously spent nine successful years as assistant to Tina Theune-Meyer, winning three UEFA European Women's Championship and the 2003 World Cup. When Theune-Meyer stepped down after UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™, Neid – who collected 111 caps, scoring 48 goals, as a player – was the natural choice to succeed, in both sense of the word.Motivation
Now the focus is on defending the European title in Finland next summer, and with five wins out of five in qualifying, Germany are all but in the finals. Neid is keen for the team, unbeaten since 1999 in major tournaments, to keep improving. "We can't afford to lose our motivation – we are the team that everyone wants to beat, so that should give us sufficient incentive to stay at the top of our game," Neid told uefa.com. "My goal is to keep us established at the top, among the best teams in the world, and that is a difficult enough task."Preparation
The first test was passed, Germany cruising to another World Cup in China. "To win a title like that, the players need to be aware of fundamental tactical principles, and you obviously need to be united and committed as a team," Neid explained. "I was fortunate in that we had very good preparation for the World Cup, and were together for a while before the tournament began. This helped us blend together and I was able to get my philosophy across to the players."
If 25 years of investment in women's football has brought Germany to their dominant position, Neid has been involved as player or coach for most of that time. She knows how difficult it is to manage the transition from one generation to the next. "In Germany we take great care in nurturing talented players," she said. "But there is the difficulty of bringing the talented youngsters through into the senior team, because the tempo of the game is higher than at Under-19 level. You have to prevent a situation where the older players finish playing, and you're left then just with young players. It's important to have a smooth transition. So we're always out looking for good players, and we have a good league, which means that players are able to play constantly at a good level."
There is a real target for any youngsters who do not make the 2009 squad, as two years later Germany will host the World Cup for the first time, which the coach also suggests will be an incentive for the veterans. "We're delighted to have been given the tournament, and I think we have also contributed to being awarded the World Cup by winning the competition," Neid said. "We also received great support from our German Federal Chancellor [Angela Merkel]. Everyone very much wanted the tournament to come to Germany. I think our bid dossier was very good, and some of our players, who might have considered stopping in a couple of years' time, may now feel that they have a new goal to aim for, and would like to experience the World Cup again."
Germany have won the last four European Championships and two World Cups, but Neid believes the competition is becoming stronger all the time. "Women's football will continue to develop, and that's really good to see," she said. "There are many countries that are now catching up, the Netherlands, England have built a super team, there's a lot of good work being done. Then there is Sweden, Norway, I think that we in Europe set the pace as far as the standard of women's football is concerned. Because of these developments, it gets more difficult every time to win the European Championship. We can't afford to rest on our laurels, we have to watch what other teams are doing, we have to learn from what we see and take what is good for us."