Whilst there is still plenty of time for everything to go wrong at Tottenham Hotspur this season, with the loss at Anfield demonstrating that the side’s capacity to self-destruct is alive and well, their results over the past few weeks have mean they have a real chance of clinching a Champions League place and reaching the later stages of the Europa League.
Tottenham fans might be daring to believe they could nab a top four place and win a trophy, although they are likely also worrying that they could still end up with neither. However if there was a straight choice between qualifying for next year’s Champions League or winning the Europa League, which would be the option most fans would go for?
Winning a trophy should be the ultimate target of any side, and however important a top four finish has become in the Premiership it cannot replace the joy of a cup win. Spurs are highly unlikely to then go on to win the Champions League next season, and whilst there are enormous benefits of being in that tournament people would remember winning the Europa League for far longer than simply participating in the Champions League.
However the benefits are now perceived to be so large, maybe a top four place really is more important to the development of the club than winning the Europa League. The financial boost of being in the Champions League is huge, and the prestige of playing against Europe’s best will be a major factor in attracting new players in the summer.
If Spurs do not qualify for the Champions League, then their rivals in the division might be able to improve their squad more come the summer. They might also struggle to keep hold of star players like Gareth Bale if they cannot offer him Champions League football.
However it still feels unnatural to covet third or fourth place more than a trophy, even if the Europa League is not viewed as the most prestigious competition to win in this country. It is all very well to qualify for the best tournaments, but at it’s core, football is about winning things, and a Europa League victory would be something Spurs would have forever, and it would be sad if most would trade that for a top four place.
image: © El Ronzo