Culture shift, valuing veterans and dance music: How Tottenham Hotspur Women went to the next level

If Scottish DJ Ewan McVicar’s dance anthem Tell Me Something Good can be heard reverberating around the dressing room at full-time, it means Tottenham Hotspur Women have won again. Defenders Kerys Harrop and Shelina Zadorsky are singing along at the top of their voices and goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer is leading the dancing.

It’s a scene that is becoming increasingly familiar for Rehanne Skinner’s side, who are through to the semi-finals of a major cup competition for the first time in the club’s history and exceeding expectations in the Women’s Super League, sitting level on points with Sunday’s opponents, third-placed hosts Manchester United (kick off is at midday and can be viewed on FA Player) and just four behind leaders Arsenal.

And it’s not only results that have changed for Tottenham. The women’s side moved into the club’s Hotspur Way complex in December 2020 and last year a new pitch was laid at the training ground for their own exclusive use. Currently under construction is a new building on the site that will be dedicated for the women’s team’s use, too, as a culture shift continues. “You can’t underestimate the way that that makes players feel, as a real genuine part of the way this club is moving forward, that they’re valued,” head coach Skinner said, of the team’s switch from their old shared training base at Barnet’s The Hive.

Experienced defender Harrop, who joined Tottenham in July 2020 after more than 20 years on the books of Birmingham City, agreed, adding: “It’s a big deal. Getting the switch to the training ground was massive, it just feels more like a club, doesn’t it? We’re one club, all in the same facility.”

Another major change the club made towards the end of 2020 was the appointment of former England, Wales and Arsenal assistant coach Skinner. She replaced long-serving co-managers Karen Hills and Juan Amoros, who had laid tremendous foundations by overseeing the club’s rise up the divisions from the lower, amateur leagues. A little over a year later, the club are enjoying their best top-flight campaign to date; At the midway point in their 22-game season, they have already surpassed the final total of 20 points that they achieved in each of the past two seasons.

For Tottenham’s former Bristol City, Chelsea and Everton forward Rosella Ayane, 25, it’s Skinner’s management skills that have been central to results, telling the Telegraph Sport: “In one word, she’s a leader. She’s ambitious, she’s very driven, she works so hard, and she’s got extreme detail to things which raise every individual’s game. You can see when we’ve ground out wins or fought back to get an equaliser, that sort of mentality breeds from the top.”

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