Tottenham Hotspur Women fired manager Rehanne Skinner from her position yesterday afternoon, one day after a 2-1 WSL loss at Liverpool. The loss was the ninth straight league defeat for Spurs Women and left the team only two points ahead of bottom team Leicester City and relegation to the FA Women’s Championship.
Assistant coach Vicky Jepson, a former Liverpool manager, was handed the title of interim manager and the responsibility of leading the team out against Leicester tomorrow in what is now essentially a relegation six-pointer. Jepson led a press conference this morning as one of her first responsibilities and summed up the players’ shock and sadness at the departure of Skinner, a popular figure at the club.
“To see [Skinner] exit the building yesterday was a tough pill to swallow. It has been difficult and emotional for myself, the staff and the players because we all did love Rehanne. She built some fantastic foundations and professionalized the club to get us to where we are.
“Every single one of us will be so grateful and will never forget the great things she did and the foundations she built. We’ve just lost our manager. That’s not easy to take. When results aren’t going your way, there’s consequences and it’s always the manager that gets hit with those consequences.
“The girls are feeling responsible for that and want to put it right [on Wednesday]. I know the players will turn up ready for the fight because it’s an important game for us.”
Spurs had been struggling for a while, but even so Skinner’s dismissal felt abrupt when it happened. But there’s no denying that the team had been struggling under her leadership. Skinner was appointed after a successful period as an assistant with England and was viewed as a talented, if unproven, head coach and tasked with helping Spurs establish themselves at or near the top of the WSL.
But this season has been difficult. Spurs have struggled with injuries, but have also wildly underachieved based on their perceived talent, even with the recent signings of players such as England international Beth England (for a England-record highest transfer fee), Japan international midfielder Mana Iwabuchi, and Poland international striker Nikola Karczewska. The schedule has been difficult, but Spurs have also failed to get results from their winnable matches. Nine matches without a win puts the club in a very difficult position and it was clear change was needed.
But that doesn’t make it any less tough on a personal level. Multiple Spurs players, including utility player Ashleigh Neville, took to social media to express their sadness at Skinner’s departure and gratitude for her service.
1/2 Thank you Boss. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me on the pitch, but also personally off the pitch with the support you’ve given me and my family. We will be forever grateful. It’s been a pleasure working with you.… https://t.co/IXBKhuPpJl— Ash Neville (@AshNev10) March 13, 2023
Ultimately the players play the game, and Jepson’s assertions that the Spurs players “feel responsible” for Skinner’s departure will hopefully have a galvanizing effect on the squad in time for tomorrow’s must-win match. With ties against Arsenal and Manchester United in their next six matches, anything less than a win tomorrow could potentially put Spurs in very real danger of going down.
There are no indications at this time as to who might take over for Skinner on a permanent basis; the BBC noted former England manager Hope Powell is currently without a job, as is former France boss Corinne Diacre (though considering the nature of her departure as France’s manager Spurs should probably think long and hard about an approach for Diacre), and Jepson may be in line to retain the position herself with a turnaround in results. That decision will be made in due course.