New Spurs Coach, Vicky Jepson, Ready To Demonstrate She Has Learned Lessons From Past

New interim Tottenham Hotspur Women head coach Vicky Jepson is determined to prove she is now a better manager than the one who took over in similar circumstances at Liverpool in 2018 as she once again faces a battle to avoid relegation from the English Women’s Super League (WSL).

Jepson, appointed assistant coach at Spurs in 2021, was yesterday thrust into the limelight after the dismissal of head coach Rehanne Skinner after a dismal run of nine successive league defeats left the club tottering over the one automatic relegation position into the second tier. Speaking to the media today for the first time as Tottenham Hotspur interim head coach, Jepson denied she has taken the job for the rest of the season. “I’m told that I’m to take them tomorrow for the game and that’s going to be my focus.”

Tottenham are currently languishing third from bottom in the Women’s Super League, just two points above the bottom side Leicester City, who they will face in a crunch match at home in Leyton on Wednesday night. Should they succumb to a tenth successive loss, they will fall below their opponents in the league table with just seven matches of the season remaining.

Despite three goals since the turn of the year from new record signing Bethany England, Spurs have lost nine points from winning positions in their five league matches so far in 2023. Jepson told me she believes the side is lacking a killer instinct in front of goal. “We’ve created many opportunities. At the weekend, we created lots of opportunities, even clear-cut chances and we dominated possession but we’ve got to make sure we have purpose with our possession and we’re finishing off chances when they arise. So I have no doubt that we’ll do that tomorrow.”

Jepson took over the reigns at Liverpool in similar circumstances five years ago, initially appointed one of an interim managerial team before taking over as first-team manager a month later. Jepson steadied the ship at Liverpool that season, steering them to eighth place in the league in 2018/19. However, in the following campaign terminated by the Coronavirus pandemic, Liverpool had only won one of their 14 league matches and were controversially relegated on a points-per-game basis with eight games of the season unplayed due to the national lockdown in the United Kingdom.

Still in her early thirties, Jepson left Liverpool by mutual consent the following January with the club playing in the second tier. Reflecting on that experience, she told me, “when I took over, I was the youngest WSL manager at the time at Liverpool and since then, I did three seasons at the club and I came away, and I looked at myself and reflected, I did coaching education courses, I worked with mentors, I got my own mirror to look at what I needed to do better as a leader and then I’ve come to this fantastic club and been supported no end, working under a fantastic manager like Rehanne, who mentored me and taught me so many great processes to professionalize this club.”

“I’ve also got a fantastic staffing group that are supportive to make sure I can deliver in these next couple of hours, these days that are coming up, at the best of my ability. I think, for me, it’s all about focusing on that game against Leicester and that’s what I’ll do with everybody here at Tottenham around me.”

Understandably, Jepson’s emotions were torn between the opportunity that has now presented itself to her and sympathy with Skinner, the woman who brought her back into the top tier of the women’s game, hiring her as assistant coach in 2021. “The process of exiting a club is always difficult”, she told me. “The emotions that go with it. First of all your phone goes off and everyone wants to talk to you and make sure that you’re okay. Within a week, no-one reaches out to you, and that’s the time when people, managers need the support the most.”

“So, I have empathy with Rehanne, I spoke to her, when she came out of her meeting yesterday, I spoke to her last night and we both had a cry together because I don’t want to see anybody lose their job, I am a human and I don’t want to see that but it does happen at his level because it is result-driven and I dropped her a message this morning and I’ll reach out to her tonight. I’ll continue to reach out because it’s important we do that when managers exit their roles to make sure they’ve got support around them.”