Robert Vilahamn: 2023/24 goal was ‘to not get relegated,’ says Spurs boss after reaching Adobe Women’s FA Cup semifinal

It is not often that a manager waltzes into a new league and takes it by storm. It is even rarer for a manager to turn a relegation-threatened side into one challenging for silverware, in the space of just eight months.

This time last year, Tottenham Hotspur found themselves engaged in a fierce battle to avoid relegation. The Lilywhites had endured a tough and testing season under Rehanne Skinner’s leadership, and while they managed to stay in the Barclays Women’s Super League by the skin of their teeth, the future was uncertain.

But the 2023/24 season has seen the rise of a new footballing powerhouse in North London – and while they’re some way off challenging for the league title, Tottenham Hotspur now sit just two wins away from Wembley glory. They’ll host Leicester City in their first-ever Adobe Women’s FA Cup semifinal next month, with the winner progressing to face either Chelsea or Manchester United in the deciding match.

Since his summer arrival from the Damallsvenskan’s BK Häcken, Robert Vilahamn has overseen a complete turnaround of Tottenham’s fortunes. With every decision seemingly influenced by the club motto, ‘to dare is to do’, the Swedish native has breathed life into his squad – and the results are nothing short of incredible.

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Speaking to FromTheSpot at Hotspur Way on Tuesday, Vilahamn remained remarkably humble about his ambitions for the season. ‘I think the main thing this year, the whole season, has been to not get relegated and build an identity,’ he explained.

His side showed incredible resolve against Manchester City in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup quarterfinal on Sunday, fighting back to claim a historic victory via a penalty shootout after falling behind just six minutes in. Vilahamn revealed that he ‘was very happy actually because I didn’t expect us to do it this year against the top three teams. You need to defend a lot against those teams and you need to be very brave to play out and play through them, and in this game we saw that and we were actually on their half at times.’

It is not just Robert Vilahamn that has changed how football is being played in N17 this season though, with Ange Postecoglou also redefining the definition of ‘the Tottenham way’ since stepping into the role of Men’s Head Coach in the summer. The pair work closely together, and Vilahamn told FromTheSpot that ‘we really feel like we are one club this year. Daniel Levy texted me after the [Manchester City] game, celebrating the victory and I really feel like we are one club and we are supporting each other.’

The two teams train in close proximity at Hotspur Way, the club’s state-of-the-art training facility in Enfield. Asked for his thoughts on the key to success in football, his answer was simple – and it will reassure Spurs fans: ‘I think that’s the key thing: to have a really good environment where they can be professional footballers and give them all the support they need.’

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‘[Grace Clinton and Martha Thomas] are very good examples of how you can find really good players in this league, and if they get the good environment and good staff around them, they can shine and they are actually shining.’

‘We are actually very professional, we have staff members around them that support them and we want to try and find those players that we can develop instead of just buying the most expensive ones so that’s a key factor for us to have really good facilities and a key academy so we can develop our own players and when we do that we’re going to beat those top three teams.’

Vilahamn has conquered the hearts of Tottenham fans, and neutrals alike, in just eight months – and if his side can continue on this upwards trajectory, the sky will be the limit for the N17-based side.