This is hardly the Europe Bill Nicholson spoke of
Friday, December 16, 2011 at 2:50PM
spooky in Europa League, Sir Bill Nick, champions league, europe, the top 4

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.


Article originally appeared on Dear Mr Levy (
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