Beth England ‘can be the best number nine in the country,’ insists Vilahamn

Spurs Women’s new boss, Robert Vilahamn, is ready to take the WSL season by the horns, despite a 2–1 opening loss to title holders Chelsea in what was, at times, a very tight game.

Scoring on her debut for the club was former Manchester United player Martha Thomas – a player Vilahamn had scouted and felt wasn’t getting used to her full potential by the Red Devils, who saw a flurry of departures over the summer. Thomas may not be as high-profile as Alessia Russo or Ona Batlle, but Vilahamn recognised her pressing ability. Keen to develop a similar mentality in North London, Spurs snapped her up and she has had an immediate impact.

Given the performances of Thomas and the whole team, Vilahamn was disappointed not to clinch a point in the match – where they had a strong first half and came back again towards the end. Asked about his target for the rest of the season, Vilahamn said that Spurs could win every game on their best day.

Playing to their best is part of his master plan. While there were questions around Spurs breaking the domestic WSL transfer record to purchase freshly-named captain Beth England in the mid-season last time out, Vilahamn says she’s a big player – a world-class striker who could be the best number nine in the country if used right.

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Like Thomas, England is a talented player who saw more of the bench at her previous club (Chelsea), due to others in the role. Also like Thomas, Vilahamn thinks England’s potential is greater than she was able to show while donning her former colours. He points to how she not only fought her way into the England squad but also onto the pitch for this summer’s Women’s World Cup, saying the 29-year-old is still able to level up her game.

And she’s perhaps not the only one: Spurs’ available squad has a variety of players who showed their international calibre for various nations in Australia and New Zealand. With the selection at his disposal and a ‘nice environment’ – including the home stadium he just visited for the first time – he has a lot to be optimistic about.

Lamenting that Lyon and PSG still dominate the Division 1 Féminine in France, Vilahamn sees the WSL opening up, anticipating that some teams will be able to take on the Big Four and win — and he sees Spurs as one of those challengers.

While we – and Vilahamn – aren’t going to get too excited until the league table has settled past early season results, the excitement of a more competitive league can only be good for fans, clubs, and the league. It would be welcome to see an ambitious manager make it beyond fears of relegation and, who knows, perhaps even to the top half of the table.