Spurs: Forget Europa, Champions League Remains The Priority

Spurs fans want both, but if push came to shove - the top four is the priority. The game is about glory, but the best players want to play amongst the best, which, if it means sacrificing a European trophy, then so be it.
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Spurs fans want both, but if push came to shove - the top four is the priority. The game is about glory, but the best players want to play amongst the best, which, if it means sacrificing a European trophy, then so be it.


That's it, I've had enough. The shower of s***e has come to a head. Tottenham Hotspur are set to drop down into the Championship, the club are set to implode with a tactically inept manager in charge and I'm going to down this handful of pills and bottle of scotch to complete the holy trinity, with Spurs set to fold as a result of the continuous financial instability at White Hart Lane.

I've suffered from depression enough times to know that this is not the bitter end of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The club lost three games on the trot, so what? It's hardly worthy of the vitriol being spouted on social networking sites at an ever growing rate.

Yes, losing to Liverpool was hardly ideal. Yes, Spurs limped into the quarter-finals of the Europa League through an Emmanuel Adebayor goal that all but summed up his season and yes, Fulham came away from north London with all three points for the first time in their illustrious history, but is this really the beginning of the end of the club? Is it f**k.

OK, football fans hate losing - it's common knowledge that (Talk about stating the f**king obvious, Ben), but like a team that has developed a head of steam following back-to-back victories, overreaction works the same both ways.

You would never have guessed that Spurs had gone on a 12 game unbeaten run between the defeat to Everton and the loss at Anfield 10 days ago, a club Premier League record I might add. And while it's hardly the Invincibles of 2003 and 2004, it's a personal feat that many a supporter quickly forgot.

But it's clear to see that the Thursday-Sunday games have taken their toll on the players. Mousa Dembele looks exhausted, Scott Parker even more so, Aaron Lennon is injured – if Spurs are a one-man team, then he's the one-man with his input evidently missing in the respective Premier League defeats.

Yet, it's these Thursday-Sunday games that the players will have to adjust to if they're to secure European glory this season. The draw with FC Basel in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, tough albeit winnable presents Spurs with a real chance of landing continental silverware for the first time since 1984.

It also presents itself with the interesting conundrum than any football fan, most notably Spurs, has been asked in the past - Would you rather a top four finish or the Europa League in the trophy cabinet? Well blow me sideways, you've presented yourself with a real doozie of a conundrum right there.

The obvious initial retort is regularly 'Well why not both?' Those answering with that are absolutely spot on. Why can't Spurs have guaranteed both Champions League football and the Europa League trophy come May?


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The players are there for Andre Villas-Boas. The squad, although contrary to popular belief, is boasting incredible depth, more so than some would like to admit. A world class goalkeeper in the form of Hugo Lloris, a solid centre-back partnership in Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen and with it an ultimately impressive spine.

Throw in Dembele and Parker - when the analogue stick isn't jammed to the left for the latter - not to mention Tom Carroll and Jake 'The Enfield Iniesta' Livermore in reserve. Lennon, Gareth Bale, Clint Dempsey, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lewis Holtby all able to fulfil the attacking void behind the lone frontman, be it Jermain Defoe, who is still yet to score this calender year, or Adebayor who, well, is Adebayor, while adding in injured pairing Younes Kaboul and Sandro.

That's a strong squad, no? Granted, it doesn't have the class of Luka Modric, the attacking verve of Rafael van der Vaart and loaning out the likes of Andros Townsend and Harry Kane may not have been a popular decision with the fans, but it's still strong nevertheless.

However, when looking at the situation purely from a business perspective, Champions League qualification is the absolute must. With the new stadium in the very early stages of development, the need for another source of income is evident.

The added TV revenue garnered from participating in Europe's elite competition dwarfs that of the Europa League, where teams only make a profit if the secure the trophy itself. One can understand why Daniel Levy demands qualification to the Champions League in that case.

The Spurs supremo has well a truly earned the tag of the game's most difficult chairman to deal with, such is his to regularity at turning his nose up at offers for his players unless his asking price is met. A prime example was the transfer of Lloris to Spurs over the summer.

Reports continuously circulate that Levy is looking to sell the club with the infrastructure already in place that would make the next owner, potentially, a significant profit on any venture they may undertake in the purchasing of the club.

The fanbase is in place, with the 20,000 strong waiting list for season tickets more than enough to allay any fears of the new stadium not being filled. However, to counteract the business aspirations of the club, there are fans that will champion for the need to secure European glory, even if it is at the expense of a Champions League place.

“The game is about glory – nobody remembers the team that finishes fourth.” It's a valid argument, and counteracts the words of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who recently stated that securing a top four finish is more important to him than the FA Cup or Capital One Cup.


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In fact, in the eyes of the Frenchman, securing a place amongst Europe's elite next season is the third “Trophy” on his agenda, with Premier League and Champions League the only two pieces of silverware that would rank higher than a finish in the upper echelons of England's top tier.

Understandably the words of the Frenchman angered the Arsenal supporters, who have failed to see their side land any form of silverware since their 2005 FA Cup triumph (note: that isn't a stab at the Gunners - far from it).

But, in 10/15/20 years time, no team that finishes in the top four will be remembered like those that land some form of trophy and it's an excellent point to make. However, as much as it pains me to say it, football is turning into a business more than a sport.

And while it will be nice to secure silverware for the first time since 2008, if one had to prioritise over the other, it would be that ending the campaign in the top four is the priority, whether certain fans will agree with me or not.

The best players want to ply their trade in the best competitions, which is the Champions League at this current point in time. One of those players is Bale, who with his talent deserves to be playing amongst the games best.

If Spurs are to progress as a club, and in a sense a business, then the top four finish this season is crucial. While this year has been a transitional one for the club, regardless of the position Spurs currently find themselves in, it will be a necessity to build upon that and that means securing that coveted Champions League place.

As previously mentioned, however, attaining both the Europa League and a Champions League place is a possibility. The last 14 days haven't been favourable to supporters of Villas-Boas' side, that's a given, but the time away from the squad for certain players and the chance to recharge and revitalise during the international break means the final push between now and May could see the club achieve both of their goals over the remainder of the campaign.