While much of the news coming out of Tottenham over the summer concerned the departure of Harry Kane and the new era under incoming men’s team boss Ange Postecoglou, changes were also afoot in the women’s team with a new manager and a slew of signings.
Who is the new manager?
In July, Swede Robert Vilahamn was named boss of SpursWomen, having previously taken BK Häcken FF to the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
He spoke in similar terms to Ange Postecoglou, focusing on instilling a style of play rather than predicting where the club might finish in the league.
For fans of the team, style of play has always been a key part of the club’s tradition. In the summer of 2023, there was a consistent message from new managers that this mattered to them too. While their hopes may not have been reflected in football odds online, within the club the mood was positive.
The need for change
It wasn’t just the fact that the team flirted with relegation last year that made it clear there was a need for change. The manner of the team’s performances was poor throughout the season.
When Rehanne Skinner was relieved of her duties, Vicky Jepson took charge of the team but struggled to inject confidence in the team. From back to front, players looked panicked with the ball at their feet and frequently made poor decisions.
With the exception of Bethany England, whose goals kept the team in the WSL, even experienced internationals like Drew Spence struggled to perform to the standards they set themselves. Just like the men’s team, the whole women’s setup needed a reboot.
The summer of 2023 may prove to be the moment that this team took a major step forward. A host of new signings came through the door at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, most notably Martha Thomas.
The Scottish international had struggled for game time at Manchester United and, like Bethany England last year, was attracted to the Lilywhites by the possibility of first-team football. She certainly hit the ground running, scoring on her debut against champions Chelsea. She went on to hit a hat-trick in an away win at Aston Villa where she looked happier and more confident than she had done at United.
With Beth England out injured at the start of the season, Thomas’ performances gave fans hope for the season ahead.
But they are much improved all over the park. This year, the team has an identity. Players know their roles and look like they’re enjoying their football. Confidence pulses through the team and those who underperformed last term are looking very much at home in a high-quality league. This is the result of Robert Vilahamn’s work on the training ground and ability to convey his vision to his team.
Can Spurs break into the top four?
While they’ve taken huge steps forward this year, breaking into the top four looks likely to be a tough task. The fact that Bethany England and Martha Thomas have had to leave Chelsea and Man Utd respectively to get minutes on the pitch tells you how strong the biggest sides are.
There is also the fact that other teams have invested in their teams. The likes of Liverpool and Brighton harbour similar ambitions to Robert Vilahamn’s team, ramping up the competition. Nonetheless, after a strong start, theywill hope to get closer to the top four and set themselves up for further growth next season.