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"It’s totally unacceptable to be in a relationship with a player" says Spurs boss Robert Vilahamn

Tottenham manager Vilahamn addresses professional relationships as well as looking ahead to this weekend's match against Leicester City



14 March 2024

Spurs boss Robert Vilahamn spoke to the media ahead of his sides clash with Leicester City on Sunday. The Swede spoke about the issue of player and coach relationships, the rise of Spurs Women, loanees Amanda Nilden and Grace Clinton, Amy James-Turner and the challenge of Leicester. 

Firstly, Vilahamn, like 99% of Women’s Super League coaches this weekend, was pitted the question surrounding player coach relationships, which has become a lot more prevalent after Willie Kirk was suspended by Leicester City pending an investigation into a relationship with a player. 

“I think it’s completely unacceptable, me as a coach is in a power position with the players and the staff. I think it’s totally unacceptable to be in a relationship with a player, it’s not even a question that should be raised here, it’s crazy. For me, it’s not professional and it should not be like that.”

The rise of Spurs Women has been nothing short of meteoric over the last eight or so years, from a quadruple winning and promotion season in 2016/17, to winning the Championship two years later and competing in the Women’s Super League, Spurs have enjoyed a stunning rise to competing with the top teams. 

The latest chapter in the clubs history saw Spurs beat Manchester City on penalties last weekend to reach the FA Cup Semi Final’s for the very first time in their history, meaning they are just one game from Wembley and an FA Cup final, with a semi final date with Saturday’s opponents, Leicester. 

“I think this is why I joined this club, to be able to be competing with titles and the top teams. The fact that we are already close to Wembley shows that we are doing the right thing.”

The hero from the penalty shootout, Amy James-Turner has had to bide her time to be in the Spurs side this season. The day Robert Vilahamn arrived at Hotspur Way, James-Turner had an injury which ruled her out for a while, which allowed Swiss International, Luana Buhler to play herself into a formidable partnership with Molly Bartrip. 

James-Turner has had to bide her time as mentioned. But after coming in due to an injury to Buhler in the historic North London Derby win, she has been pretty much an ever present in the Spurs backline since. 

“I am full of admiration for her. She is good in the one on one’s, good in the duels and had a supreme amount of confidence in the penalty shootout. I was so impressed with her.

“I actually had a meeting with her today about how she has been for me as a coach and she has been fantastic, she is a role model and the role model I want for my players, she’s fantastic.”

The semi final pits Spurs against Leicester, with the game this Sunday just a month before the showpiece FA Cup occasion. This often happens across all levels of football, leading to one of the clashes at least, being labelled as a ‘dress rehearsal’, but Vilahamn, was coy on that regard.

“What I want to do, is put full intention on this game first. We have the challenge of Leicester in the league first and the FA Cup in the future. You could see it as competition for the big game and you could practice something for the big one, but on the other hand, we have a big competition in the Women’s Super League because they could go above us in the table. For me we have to have 100% focus in going into the game on Sunday.” 

Two of Spurs’ brightest sparks this season have been players they acquired on loan moves. Grace Clinton from Manchester United and Amanda Nilden from Juventus. The former has arguably been Tottenham’s poster girl and star turn this season, while the latter has been pretty much ever present in the side since joining from Juventus. 

There is a lot more uncertainty in the waters surrounding the post loan future of Grace Clinton, with seemingly the question being asked every week if Spurs are going to break the bank to sign the Liverpudlian. 

“I’m very much someone who wants to work with players who are here right now, so even if she is on a loan, I am not going to bench her because I might not have her next season. We want to continue to develop her and develop us. Last game we moved her into a 10 and she was exceptional, so I am just enjoying working with her.” 

Contrast this with Amanda Nilden, who has starred on the left hand side of Spurs’ defence since joining from Juventus, has a certain air of inevitability of where she will end up playing next season. 

“It’s funny because I had a left back at Hacken, who kept not getting picked over her (Nilden) for the international team, so I signed her here instead! 

“I love working with Amanda, she’s very good on the ball and she’s very good in many scenarios, she gives us a left foot in the build up which we never had before and you see her attitude in the penalty shootout, it’s a cool girl who can do that, I love to work with players that have that coolness, that passion that she has.

“There’s a plan for her to stay next season too, we didn’t go for a loan player in the winter window without having a smart plan of how we can execute them staying. I am quite sure she is going to stay next season.” 


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