Five Questions 

Five things @davidpuckridge would like to ask Spurs Interim Manager Vicky Jepson before this weekend’s crucial game against Reading.

Whenever I watch Vicky Jepson talk I’m impressed with her communication skills; I may not always agree with her but she explains her decision making well. But one of my plaintive cries in regards to the WSL has been how shallow the level of journalistic questioning has been – the questions asked never seem to display a knowledge of personnel or previous performances and as such I end up frustrated. With that in mind, ahead of the anxiety inducing Must Win game against Reading, I thought I’d ask a few of my persistent queries here and hope VJ has time on her hands and maybe trawls the internet in an unhealthy manner:

Vicky Jepson. Image: @SpursWomen

What formation are we attempting to play?

Rehanne Skinner experimented with a back three and wing backs on occasion which I personally felt made us quite dynamic, but more often then not – and especially under Vicky Jepson – we’ve stuck to a back four. 

Beyond that, I’m just not sure. Is the idea to be fluid? If so, we too often seem to leave gaps or get overloaded exposing the defence.

Under what criteria is the keeper chosen?

We don’t seem to have a fixed Number One with both Tini Korpela & Becky Spencer getting runs of games with no real explanation; is it due to injury to one? Managed game time? Specific qualities suited to specific opponents?

Tinni Korpela (top) and Becky Spencer (bottom). Image: GoTB

Why not unleash Ashleigh Neville?

At the opening of the season, Ash was one of our most potent attacking threats when played further forward, usually with Asmita Ale in the defensive line. But for months now Ash has been shackled in the right back berth while Asmita has been on the bench. Is she on managed minutes? When she was restored to the starting line up against Aston Villa we didn’t seem any more or less defensively solid and scored three against a good Villa side. But then against Brighton, Asmita was back on the bench, Ash was back at right back and we seemed much less dangerous.


Ashleigh Neville vs Brighton. Image: GoTB

What are the midfielders’ strongest roles?

We have a lot of midfielders. A LOT. Eveliina Summanen has really flourished in recent weeks when playing further forward popping up with some vital goals – & it does seem that her physical similarity to Beth England has been used so that when they’re in proximity to each other the opposition defence are momentarily confused as to who they’re supposed to be doubling up on, freeing the other to devastating effect. 

But it’s not quite clear who in the midfield is supposed to be providing cover to the backline and too often it seems that our midfield are operating in the same space on top of each other trying to get forward then getting caught out by simple balls over the top. 

And as with Ash’s shackled attacking potency, it seems Drew Spence’s shooting ability is being smothered in a deeper role that offers her few opportunities to get shots away. With Kit on limited game time as she works her way back – not to mention Ria and Ramona – we’ve got quite a stocked central midfield without a clear indication as to what system would best accommodate any combination of them.

How are we using substitutes?

It’s not always clear what the aim of our substitutions is beyond taking a player off whose playing time is being managed or gradually reintroducing a player from a long term injury. Coupled with the opacity of what system we’re trying to operate, it makes for a tactical hodge podge. 

The upcoming game

With all that in mind I’ve decided to bite the bullet and suggest my own starting 11 to line up against Reading – or the Molly Bartrip Derby as it shall henceforth be known:

















I think this formation would best utilise the players available and give the defence plenty of support. Kerys has great delivery so this would hopefully enable her to get higher without having to get into too many foot races as well as being on the same side as Ash who can alternate with her. Likewise on the right Asmita and Celin’s tenacity would be a good combination. Ria might be on managed minutes so can be subbed out for Kit or Angharad or if Reading are tiring it might be good to unleash Drew into the Number 10 role to terrorise them. 

What do you think? Reply with your own suggested formation and lineup below.

Or find Dave Puckridge on twitter @DavidPuckridge

8 Replies to “Five Questions ”

  1. The key here is Reading have to win, a draw will probably do for Spurs.
    But to save any angst in final minutes of game, please just win and effectively end this miserable season a week early.

    I dont think there will be many changes from side at Man United.
    Reading are no United and as long as the silly mistakes are avoided, if can create 3 or 4 clear opportunities against a United defence, then should be able to create double that against a Reading side who have been leaking goals.

    A loss is unthinkable. Having to go to West Ham and probably win to stay up, the stuff of nightmares.


    1. I keep trying to boost my confidence by reminding myself that West Ham are on a terrible run but I’ll be biting my nails regardless.

      I don’t think we’ve performed well against Reading so far this season – admittedly we were lacking Bethany England in those games but even so we should have had enough to break them down but instead we seemed a bit negative, like the home game against Brighton, we let them play on the front foot.

      Thanks for reading!


  2. Great report yet again David – well done and I totaly agree with all that you have said however there is a 6th question for the list and that is .. why keep playing this constant build from the back when most of our players just cannot play this system as they do not have the footballing skills to do so. A hard press from any team usually 9/10 times ends up in an overturn and another attack on goal – kamikaze at best. Then there is the keeper. Korps has the skills to deliver great upfield punts however Spence cannot and she seems to always go for the wing pass with a 50-50 success rate thus turning into a throw in for the opposition and another attack on goal. She also has this habit of a 2 touch system before kicking the ball which is well known in the WSL and she is just one failed touch from disaster.
    As for a team for Reading … it has to be
    Korps (Spencer is always a liability and should have been moved on last season and not given an extention – makes no sense)
    Ale Bartrip Zadorsky (Turner and Harrop are just not good enough)
    Celin Summanen Spence Neville for midfield
    Graham England Iwabuchi for the frontline

    The bench – well its a free for all as none of the rest are good enough when called on as subs and why we need a massive rebuild and some contracts severed early otherwise we will be in the same position next season .. why because all the best statement players are already being snapped up by the rich clubs and we will be too late as usual and left with like for like castoffs.


    1. Thanks for the kind words. And also thank you for articulating our gameplay! I’ve spent most of the season scratching my head trying to figure out what we’re trying to do as beyond the back line it’s a bit like a 5-a-side team: everyone is everywhere!


  3. I guess you have this saved off David but if not it is a good place to view who is available and moving within the women’s game … needless to say we are rarely mentioned if at all .. as unlike Chelsea MU Citeh and the Reds down the road .. we do not start looking until the Aldi/Lidl sales come along or view the “past the sell buy date” basket for our signings and why where we are. We need this to change this summer with so many leaving


    1. Indeed!

      The obvious place to start is Daniel Levy’s admitted ambivalence towards the women’s team exacerbated by directionless mess of a club lacking a director of football and head coaches of both senior teams.

      We have several contracts up at the end of the season but who decides to extend, especially if they might not be wanted by the new head coach? And it must be an awful position for them to be in- this is their job afterall and the lack of leadership is surely making this period worrying for them not knowing where they’ll be in a month’s time.


  4. I guess they have agents already touting their upcoming departures .. bet Shelina and Korpella will be snapped up quickly .. the likes of Ayanne Cho Ubogagu Simon Harrop maybe not so … I guess we will continue keeping Ale and Morgan (who never gets a look in anyhow)
    I was however surprised that most women are only on contracts of 20-30k per year not even per season … not really enough to even buy a home so assume the club helps them or pays their rent for the time of their contract (otherwise what is the point of signing for a London club when we are in the most expensive part of the country) … this part of the buiz never talked about to know much about it when the lower men get this amount per week. Shameful really


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