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This is hardly the Europe Bill Nicholson spoke of

A while back on the podcast, the question of 'Top 4 or silverware' was put forward. Crops up a lot. No matter the quote or the belief you embrace when discussing priorities in football, there is no argument that football has changed so much in the past twenty years that such a question is rendered redundant because it's easier to just wait and see if you're knocked out before assigning the tags on what matters and what doesn't.

The title > Champions League > Domestic cups > Europa League

Not everyone has the privilege of challenging for the first two and very few are interested in the lesser European competition because it feels like its only there to appease the clubs knocked out in the group stage of the elite competition. Would change if they awarded the winner with a spot in the CL proper and perhaps didn't allow losers from it to drop into the Europa. That's hardly going to happen when football is structured to make the rich richer.

Now I know it's ironic that we want a piece of the pie and want back in, but from a purists point of view we want another bite, perhaps a feast this time - going pound for pound with the top tier teams the continent has to offer. So does that mean it's okay to devalue one competition for another? It's what we've done this season playing a mish-mash of second teamers and youth players whilst our first team concentrate on the Prem games.

I think if you strip it all away, even Bill Nicks quote on Spurs and Europe, you would simply want your club to win every game. To always look to be competitive and to have a mentality that every competition is winnable. Go back to the 80s, that was pretty much the way it was. But that romantic notion can not be stretched through the decades to the present day.

I've felt empty and fairly disillusioned and disinterested with Europe this season because although we did manage a level of competitiveness it was hardly the Glory Glory Tottenham I know, all in white, under the floodlights giving it the style and grace we have come to expect. Europa League is not the Champions League. Its an after thought, the League Cup of the continental stage. You start to take it seriously the further you progress. That chance was missed when the Greeks visited the Lane.

It's a shame that the younger players and the rest wont get any extra game time. That in its self sums up the experience we've endured on Channel 5 and ITV4.

Nicholson's Europe is not the Europa League.

I'd love to see us line-up with strength and the desire to beat our opponents in every single game, but it's not going to happen. This competition was sacrificed. It hurts, but it won't kill.

That question, 'Silverware or Top 4'. I answered Top 4. That's not to say finishing in a CL spot is in any way glorious or defining as any cup competition win. Not a chance. But, in the long term, for this club and the players we currently possesses in Lilywhite it is just as important as lifting a bit of silver with white and blue ribbons.


I don't particularity want us to become the next Man Utd. I don't want ten years of dominance or anything like that. I don't actually believe that will happen again and can see the Premier League being a far more open competition. What I would like is another chapter in our history akin to the one in the 60s and the early 80s. Another glory side. We were once synonymous with the FA Cup.

In addition, if we finish top four or higher. If we consolidate and build on the squad, it's not a case of just finishing in the 'Top four' and being happy with another adventure the following season. It's about growing stronger from one season to the next to be able to aim for the very top.

We would never have had this conversation a few years back. Testament to how much the landscape has brighten from a dull dark sky to a blue one punctured with the odd white cloud.

We can't ignore the position we're in and the potential the side has and the club, players have to believe that a small sacrifice here or there is for the greater good.

If you continually finish in the top then those trophies, that silverware that is far more satisfying (and historically noted) will be far more tangible options in the short and long term.

That's my belief and in some way, my sacrifice.


Reader Comments (9)

Totally agree. The way I see the club moving forward is to be in the champions league year upon year. That way we can afford and attract the kind of players that are required for a genuine push on the title. For me that should be our ultimate goal.

Yes it would have been nice to see us lift some silverware but I think we've used the Europa League to great effect to give our young hot-prospects some valuable European experience but also as a chance for those players who now find themselves in the reserves, to show just how motivated and dedicated they are (or not - Pav) to get back into the "A" team.

Maybe you're right on the money there, perhaps the way forward for this "league cup of the continental stage" (love that analogy btw) is to award the winner with a champions league qualifying spot.

Dec 16, 2011 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMadchef

hate to agree with you on this one , feels so wrong to consider ourselves to big for the EL.

This top 4 nonsense is doing my head in , its about winning trophies and glory , not about trying to get money from a competition designed to make the rich even richer and the small clubs and countries quiet.

But i am an angry old man so dont mind me. I understand the importance of the CL and the money , i just dont like what this game has become. I am just glad Spurs still play the game with style and swagger as it is supposed to be played.

its a sacrifice for the future , i agree on that. You want the top players to get you the silverware , you'll need the CL to pay their wages.

Dec 16, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterbelgian spur

I think you're right, although I have mentioned before that I believe that the 2 teams that face each other or maybe even reserved for the winner of the EUROPA LEAGUE should be seeded into a playoff spot for the following years Champions League, this would make it alot more worth the additional fixtures & would sure up another spot for CL places in the respective leagues should the Finalists finish in the top 4 or 3 depending on the respective league, what says you?

Dec 16, 2011 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlphaT

Bill Nick was all about Spurs aiming for the heavens so even if they fell short they were still among the stars. Today that means Spurs being CL regulars and having Madrid, Milan, and Barcelona under our floodlights.
It also means building the club with the aim to win the English Premier League title and finishing top for the first time since he did it fifty years ago. In my view we are closer to it than for a generation or two maybe more. I think we have been the best team this year so far. Get some competition/backup for Adebayor and we should be able to stay in the running too.

Dec 16, 2011 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered Commentercoys

Agree completely with what you've said. In fact, you've made it clearer than I've ever been able to make it. The bottom line really is that Europa champions should qualify for the CL. There's more than one way to make money and can you imagine the interest this would generate in the knockout rounds of the competition? It would be massive! And more interest = more viewers = more advertising dollars. How hard is that equation to follow? It's not that the CL is "bad" in and of itself, what is bad is that there are so few ways into the competition. There are no "wild cards" as we call them over here. Imagine if domestic cup winners could at least start in the CL qualifiers? Again, would make domestic cups more competitive and rev up a ton of interest. UEFA has got it all backwards again just like (enter EU financial crisis analogy here).

Dec 17, 2011 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterusaspur

Good point made here, it is shaping up to be a great season for English football with 7 clubs in the running for 4 places. My concern is we have not had a bad run yet unlike 5 of the other clubs. We really need to find a long term solution to Ledley King and find that perfect partner for Kaboul....the answer is not Gallas BTW!

Dec 17, 2011 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterShow Pony

The answer is not Gallas, true say - it's Michael Dawson. Next year Stephen Caulker should step in like Walker has done this season.

FA Cup winner has to become a Champions League spot, it's a no-brainer.

Dec 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaptainYid

Should Kaboul watcher be in the question?

He's great when play is directly in front of him, but has the awareness of a pillar box when not.

Dec 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTMWNN

How long is Daws supposed to be out? Seems his injury is longer than anticipated.

Dec 18, 2011 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterIaG

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