West Ham Women’s 23/24 Women’s Super League campaign starts this Sunday, with new manager Rehanne Skinner excited and ready for a competitive season.
With the start of the season a little later than usual due to the Women’s World Cup, the 70 WSL players who played for their country are back from Australia and ready to go. Skinner was also out in Australia this summer, commentating and looking for talent, which meant she had a late start with the team.
But the hammers managed to get 5 signings over the line with Japanese international Riko Ueki, England U23 player Emma Harries, Republic of Ireland defender Jessie Stapleton and Irish Goalkeeper Megan Walsh all joining the east London side in the summer transfer window.
Skinner has been working with the team at Chadwell Heath for just over a month and is excited to help the club grow and succeed in this year’s campaign.
She spoke to whufc.com as she says “It’s fantastic for the game that things are growing in that way and getting harder and stronger. For us as coaches who have been in the game for such a long period of time, that’s exactly what we’ve all strived towards and wanted to see in the game. I think it’s the challenge we all want.
“I’m new to the Football Club and we have some work to do across the board to try and build the Club into where we really see it wanting to go and so we want to evolve the things that we have, structurally, the process and all that goes into that.
“The commitment from the Club has been huge recently with our women’s board taking over. Baroness Karren Brady, Tara Warren and Nicola Keye are instrumental with what we’re trying to grow as a team. I’m looking to support and work with them in how we evolve that, that’s going to be a big part of the future of West Ham United.”
The new managers time at the World Cup meant she has only been able to spend a small amount of time with the team and preparing them for pre-season. But Skinner believes the hard work over the last month and the teams effort to get to know each other, will really help the team ahead of the WSL campaign.
“I think the challenge that we’ve had is the timing that we actually have for pre-season,” she added.
“Major tournaments going on quite late do create some challenges when settling players in, with the time we do get with them before going on another international break [in September], then starting the season straight after that.
“It’s so key that in the time that we get with those players, we work on team-building activities, on how we want to set out our philosophy and how we want to work together with our playing style.
“We have staff support systems, especially for players who are coming from abroad, to help them settle in, it’s a huge part of what we really need to make sure happens because the off-pitch element is as important as the on pitch.
“For me the whole team is new and I’m getting to know everybody, and the new players coming in are a part of that process. Both personally and professionally we’re getting there with the team for sure, it’s just going to take a little bit of time for everybody, but we’re looking forward to the season.”
The team faced some challenges last season, with the hammers finishing eighth under former manager, Paul Konchesky, and things are looking exciting with a fresh set of ideas looking to be put in place. Skinner revealed that there are some areas that the team will need to focus on which won’t happen overnight.
“We want to make sure that we really cement a place within the league, we show what we’re about in terms of how we want to go about our identity and the style of play, and we make sure that the players that we have within the team are able to perform at the highest possible level they can, and we utilize them to their strengths.
“Those are some huge areas that we want to get right, along with the culture of the team moving forwards.
“I think the biggest thing for me and my own philosophy, and that of the players and the Club, is that we want to give everything that we possibly can to ensure that the fans really enjoy what we’re about as a football team.
“Our work ethic should never be in question and ultimately, everyone wants to learn and improve. Within the squad and the staff that are here, everybody is definitely of that mindset, which has been a real pleasure to work with since joining the Club.”
Written by Katie Vine.