This was supposed to be a season of opportunity for Tottenham, a genuine chance to push on and start challenging with the very best. But as is so often the case with Spurs we are frustratingly back to square one. This is a club that enjoys false dawns like no other, a rollercoaster ride between cynicism and belief that more often than not ends in disappointment.
Spurs’ Premier League top four challenge is in tatters. Whilst Spurs have crumbled under the pressures the sides around have shown the resilience required and it would now take something remarkable for the North Londoners to get back on track.
If the rumours are to believed Sherwood wont last out the summer at Spurs, with a number of names already being lined up as his replacement. Some are willing to write off these final few months and just start from fresh next season, but are they right?
Spurs may be in turmoil but they are also on the cusp of actually achieving something in the Europa League. A European tie against Benfica was the kind of thing to capture the imagination in years gone by for Spurs, but this season it seems to have approached with a degree of animosity. With the league as good as gone it is time for Spurs to shift their focus to Europe and start taking this competition seriously.
The obsession with 4th place has become harmful for Spurs, a club that is losing track of what it is all about and forgetting what made it great in the first place. European football is key to Spurs, and it is high time that fans echoed the words of the late great Bill Nicholson and cherished it once more:
“It’s magnificent to be in Europe, and this club – a club like Tottenham Hotspur – if we’re not in Europe…. we’re nothing. we’re nothing.”
Maybe I’m being a little nostalgic here, a sentiment long lost perhaps. But this is definitely something that still resonates with Spurs fans on European nights and something that needs to be rekindled once again. Garry Mabbutt who played for the club the last time they lifted the UEFA Cup was quick to laugh off those that discredit the competition:
“People have spoken about the different value of competitions, it’s nonsense,” he said.
“Footballers want to win every single competition they’re playing in, whether it’s the Capital One Cup or the Europa League. Look at the Man City team when they won the League Cup.
You look at Vincent Kompany when he lifted that trophy, the look on his face – was that the look of someone who thinks we shouldn’t really be here? No. They won the trophy; they outplayed other teams to win it. For them, the players and the supporters, it was a fantastic day.”
“For any Spurs fans if we could be in Turin at the Europa League final and see Michael Dawson lift that trophy at the end of the season that would be fantastic.”
The issue with the Europa League has always been its length; it is hard to generate excitement when the end goal seems so far away. But when it comes to the last 16 of the competition this should all change, especially when it is against one of the great European sides. Spurs will be looking for redemption for their controversial 1962 European cup defeat to Benfica, and the opportunity to prove themselves against one of the best on the continent once again.
It isn’t all doom and gloom for Spurs. It may be time to forget about the Premier League, but in the Europa they genuinely have something to get excited about. Winning the competition would be the greatest achievement in the clubs recent history and would help Sherwood to prove his considerable list of doubters wrong.
A European night at the Lane will always be special; it is time for fans to realise this once more.