‘I think we are ready for the next step,’ says Robert Vilahamn ahead of Manchester United clash

Coming off the back of a deflating 7-0 defeat to Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City side in the last round of the Barclays Women’s Super League, Tottenham Hotspur manager Robert Vilahamn reflected on the mentality that his side will require in order to provide a statement response heading into this Sunday’s clash with Manchester United at Brisbane Road.

‘If you look at the mentality and how they want to play and perform, I need to say that I’m impressed with how they do it. If you look for an identity and how we want to create a team that wants to play a certain style and then actually try to do it against one of the top teams in the league, then I am pleased with that.’

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Despite the trashing incurred at Joie Stadium in their last league outing, Vilahamn’s Tottenham Hotspur have commenced the 2023/24 Barclays Women’s Super League season with impressive trot. The side currently sit in sixth position in the table on 12 points, despite having been without captain and star forward Bethany England. Speaking to the media, Vilahamn expressed his delight in regards to how Spurs have commenced their league campaign.

‘If you remove the [Manchester] City result and if you look at all the games that we’ve had and what we’ve performed and what the players have done and where we are on the table and everything, I think everybody has been saying- Tottenham have had a good start to the season, they’re playing quite good football, they are top six in the table. So I think a lot of boxes are checked, so I think we are ready for the next step.’

Tottenham will tread in familiar Mancunian territory this weekend, as they host Manchester United at Brisbane Road Stadium. Marc Skinner’s Reds returned to top form in their recent 2-0 victory over Bristol City, and currently sit in fourth position on the league table. Vilahamn spoke in high praise of Tottenham’s upcoming opponents, reflecting on how the fixture will prove to be a test for the development of his side.

‘For me it is more like can we compete against Manchester United, can we beat them at our home ground here? Hopefully we can have a good game and do that but, once again, this is a journey and we’re going to make sure we develop even if we lose or win on Sunday we make sure we are going to develop and make sure we are going to compete against them in the long end.’

‘We are going to see a player that really wants to score goals’

Tottenham’s leading goal scorer in Martha Thomas gears up to face her old side, with the Scottish striker having departed Manchester United in the summer. Vilahamn insisted that fans are sure to see a firing Thomas come Sunday’s clash.

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‘Of course we use her inside information about the [Manchester United] players, about the possibilities of how they play and so on. But then of course, Martha is our player right now and she wants to show them that she’s a good player, but she wants to show our fans that she’s a good player. So I think we are going to see a player that really wants to score goals on Sunday so it’s going to be fun.’

‘We are just so happy to have her back’

Excellent news for Spurs fans sees the return of captain Bethany England to this Sunday’s matchday squad, with Vilahamn confirming the Tottenham striker will ‘definitely be in the squad’.

We are very much looking forward to bringing her to the squad this week and use her as a player and a leader, so we are just so happy to have her back.’

‘Getting her back to the squad, she’s already even a part of it as a leader outside the field but her leadership role is more effective on the pitch so I am looking forward to bringing her to the field and she’s a great footballer as well, scoring goals and I think in some of the situations in these games, if she was on the pitch we would have a few more points. So, I mean she’s just a brilliant striker.’

Further team news confirms that Grace Clinton will miss the occasion due to the terms of her loan contract, as the 20 year-old midfielder is not permitted to face her parent club of Manchester United. Ellie Brazil has returned to a partial training schedule, but will not be deemed fit in time for Sunday’s fixture against the Reds. Vilahamn provided a further fitness update on his squad, detailing the omissions for the upcoming fixture.

‘We still have Drew [Spence], Eveliina [Summanen] and Olga [Ahtinen] gone for a few more weeks, so they’re getting more and more fit for going back on the pitch. But, we will not see them until after Christmas.’

Robert Vilahamn’s Tottenham Hotspur side gear up to host Manchester United at Brisbane Road Stadium this Sunday at 6:45pm.