@Westhamwomen

The FAWSL may be on hold for a couple of weeks while players are away on international duty, but that doesn’t mean clubs have been shy about trying to improve before the second half of the season begins. Two have made major managerial decisions that are sure to have an impact on how the rest of the year unfolds.

West Ham United announced early on November 19th that head coach Matt Beard would be leaving the club, a decision that has been publicly disclosed as mutual.

Later that day, Tottenham Hotspur announced that co-managers Karen Hills and Juan Amoros have been released of their duties with immediate effect.

Beard has had an abundance of FAWSL experience, to say the least. He was Chelsea’s very first manager when they became a part of the FAWSL back in 2011, having been their manager for a year prior when the club was a part of the FA Premier League National Division. Once the team joined the FAWSL, Beard was a great success both in the league and in the cup competitions. He led Chelsea to its first-ever FA Cup Final in 2012, but after losing the final to Birmingham, he resigned.

A month later, he joined his next FAWSL team — Liverpool. Beard was at the helm of the club when massive changes were made to the team both on the pitch (big, high-profile signings were made after the club finished bottom of the table), and off the pitch (Liverpool became the first English club to offer all their players full-time, professional contracts). These changes lead to Liverpool’s first FAWSL title in 2013, and a second in 2014.

Beard left Liverpool in 2015, and after a short stint with the now-defunct NWSL team the Boston Breakers and a break from managing, Beard returned to the FAWSL to manage West Ham in 2018. Beard managed another FA Cup final appearance with his new club back in 2019. In his two full seasons at the club, Beard managed to finish in 7th and 8th place respectively.

However this season, West Ham are in 9th place and are four points behind 8th place Brighton & Hove Albion.

Beard is a fantastic coach — there is no doubt about it. But it has not seemed to be clicking for him at West Ham as of late. The team is massively underperforming and has not been consistent in their performances since at least the beginning of 2020.

West Ham have not announced a replacement yet, and it’ll be interesting to see who they bring in. Beard is one of the biggest names in women’s football, and the club will be hoping to bring in someone with a similar pedigree who can re-energize the squad. As of right now, goalkeeping coach Billy Steward and first-team coach Paul McHugh will act as interim coaches until a permanent replacement is announced.

Karen Hills has been at Tottenham Hotspur for over a decade, taking over as head coach in 2009. Juan Amoros joined the club in 2011 as co-head coach. The two were pivotal in bringing the club up from the amateur leagues to the FAWSL, having won the Championship play-offs in the 2016/17 season, and securing a promotion spot to the FAWSL in 2019. They also won the FA Women’s National League Cup back to back in 2016 and 2017.

Last season, during their first year in the FAWSL, Tottenham Hotspur finished in 7th place — a strong finish for a newly-promoted side. However, this season, Tottenham have yet to win a match in the league as they currently sit in 11th place with three points. Hills and Amoros’ sacking makes a lot of sense — the Spurs have a real chance of being relegated this season, and something must change if they are to avoid dropping down.

Unlike West Ham, the Spurs have a replacement lined up. They announced later on Thursday that Rehanne Skinner will take charge at the club on a contract through the 2022/2023 season.

Skinner will leave her role as England’s assistant coach, where she worked alongside Phil Neville starting in September of this year. Prior to that, she was head coach of England’s U21 team. She also previously worked with Tottenham’s North London rivals Arsenal, where she was part of the coaching staff that won six trophies, including two FAWSL titles.

It is clear that Tottenham have been working on this appointment for a while, with it being announced mere hours after the sacking of the previous managers. It’s no question that Amoros and especially Hills have cemented themselves in Tottenham’s legacy book, but it’s also clear that a fresh change is needed at the club if they want to build on last year’s 7th place finish and avoid relegation.

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