It has been a long time since Spurs won a European competition and teams are often defined by how well they do in Europe. The fans have been starved of success on the continent since 1984, when they beat Anderlecht on penalties 4-3 in Uefa Cup final. A club of Tottenham’s size, with their fan base and following around the world, should have won more, especially when you consider some of the players that have played for them like Gary Lineker, Glenn Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne, and more recently, Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale. Mauricio Pochettino, when manager of Southampton, said on the competition: “I think it is a competition that kills you in the sense that there are a lot of mid-table teams that put a lot of effort into the Europa League and then are not able to do anything in the league, they are not able to compensate for that bad run of form in the league so it brings them down”. But there are signs he has softened his stance in recent weeks and is now relishing the chance of doing well with Spurs in the competition.
It is no secret that chairman Daniel Levy puts business and profit before the needs of the club. Almost every season, Spurs seem to sell their best player to another club. They have lost Modric, Bale and Dimitar Berbatov in recent times, but should they win the Europa League, not only will it convince more players to stay, but it will also help widen their appeal around the world. Players still sign for Liverpool because of their rich history in Europe even though they haven’t won the league title since 1990. Levy is a very clever man and is likely to put pressure on Pochettino as he knows that the profile of the club will be enhanced should they succeed in the competition. This will mean an increase in profits and an increase in media coverage. A trophy in Europe will also be good for Pochettino’s reputation which is enhancing all the time. He is a young manager with some brilliant ideas but only with success can he compare himself to others in his profession. If Pochettino has ambitions of managing an elite club in the future, than he should prioritise the Europa League because from a personal viewpoint it could elevate him on to the next level.
All clubs have an extra incentive to win the Europa League this season, and considering the Premier League is one of the most competitive in the world, this could be Tottenham’s most realistic hope of getting into the Champions League next season. The Europa League has often been seen by clubs in a negative way. The length of the tournament as well as how many clubs take part can often make it seem drawn out, and in some cases it takes the excitement and anticipation away. But with the prize on offer at the end, it is very likely that clubs will start to show the Europa League the respect it deserves.
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