After the already notorious Nations League match that saw the Republic of Ireland wanting to swap out their football boots for flippers in Albania, it’s probably not surprising that Tottenham boss Robert Vilahamn was posed with an inclement weather question. His response, that ‘we will play the same in whatever conditions’, reflected the confident calm air he has brought to the team that has seen them enjoy a good run of form.
Calmness, confidence, and drive, that is. Someone else who is having an all-round positive effect in the Tottenham locker room is Martha Thomas – their fresh star. Vilahamn says she’s ‘outstanding’ and a hard worker, both on the pitch and in training. But even his confidence is no match for her abilities, it seems, as she is ‘exceeding expectations’, with the gaffer now pondering his next steps in her player development.Embed from Getty Images
Also unspecified are Vilahamn’s plans to get Thomas and Bethany England – last year’s Tottenham revelation who has been missing so far this season with a hip injury – on the pitch together, but those plans exist. As England has begun running in boots on grass again, we may be seeing them soon, though not too quickly. Vilahamn acknowledges that Thomas’ form means the two will have to ‘compete for the 9’, but he is ‘flexible to find roles’ to make sure his best eleven players are out there.
England should be one of them, it seems, though some of his flexibility probably comes from how he doesn’t want to force England to fight for her spot when she’s just back from injury.
Another player waiting to claim their spot is England youth forward Ellie Brazil, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) for the second time last October. ‘You never know in football’, Vilahamn says of her return to the squad – after saying she is now available for selection against Everton and ‘looks really sharp actually’.
Having been able to closely assess this sharpness in the more player-focused sessions during the recent international break, Vilahamn says everyone at Spurs is happy with Brazil’s form. Could she be another reason for an adjustment in the attacking formation? It’s not as though he sees Thomas, recently-crowned WSL Player of the Month, going anywhere anytime soon – Vilahamn posits she could take the season’s top scorer crown and, pressed for a number, he brushes off the suggestion of 20 because ‘you can say what number you want, she is going to keep scoring goals’.Embed from Getty Images
So perhaps, he will be disappointed that Thomas did not get much an opportunity to make her mark for Scotland during the international break following her hat-trick against Aston Villa. Saying that they ‘want to keep the momentum’ of these wins, Vilahamn only said it was good that they ended on a win.
But hopes have been swapped for expectations to win again when they face Everton – going so far as to say ‘people should expect us to win against Everton at home’. A great start to the season is now being rewarded with a string of games that Spurs ‘can win’, and Vilahamn is looking forward to doing so in front of their fans.
Grateful for the loud support of a small travelling contingent, a proud moment for his new pressing playing style will be bringing it home. The ‘fans want to see us play’ he says, and he wants them to see a Spurs side at their best.
Starting by acknowledging that Everton ‘haven’t started as well as they’d hope’ after some tough games made tougher by injuries, Vilahamn could not be more confident in his Spurs side to vanquish them, thinking about how much further they can go now that his own squad is returning to full fitness.