There has been a lot written about the loan signing of Emma Mitchell from Arsenal to Tottenham Hotspur.
This has been led by the social media response of fans of the men’s game complaining that you can’t move
between local rivals and followed by a response from those in the women’s game to explain why the rules are different here.
What all this noise has done though is hide the really interesting question. Why have Spurs signed another left-back?
Left-back is, arguably, the strongest position at Spurs with Dutch International Siri Worm being first choice
and Ashleigh Neville also available. Worm has been growing in confidence through the season both in defence and going forward, scoring a rocket against Reading in December. She is a player with international pedigree who, we assume, has a future at Spurs beyond this season. Mitchell too is an international player with plenty of skill but it seems unlikely she will be anything more than a short term Spurs player. When you consider too that fan favourite Neville, who has been playing at right-back, is primarily a left-back and more than able to cover, the decision seems even more odd.
Mitchell has stated that her aim is to get playing time, presumably with an eye on the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 and a spot in the Scotland squad. How will this affect the existing players at Spurs? It is hard to see this
having anything other than a detrimental effect on their confidence and on the squad dynamic. The joint-managers Karen Hills and Juan Amoros have spoken a lot about the importance of training well to get into the matchday squad and Mitchell started her first game just 10 days after signing. From a squad perspective this signing does not seem to be in the long term interest of Tottenham Hotspur.
The loss of Rachel Furness at the start of January was a blow and left a space in the squad but to move so quickly and get a player for whom there seems no immediate need may be an indication of the gear change that has yet to happen in the minds of Hills and Amoros. Spurs have been, for many years, the underdog in the women’s game compared to other London clubs with whom their male counterparts compete. This season though they are in the same league and their ambition should be to be challenging those other teams, not immediately perhaps, but over time. To do that Spurs need to prioritise development over a glamour signing. The team has established themselves in the league, now they need to be looking to next season and what will push them on to the next level not bringing in players who will not be part of that future. Worm and Neville can be key components of the Spurs squad next season and beyond, Mitchell will not and prioritising her need for game time over existing players will not help the team progress and may bring disharmony.
By Sian Wallis (@Sian_Wallis)