Harry Redknapp has no time for the Europa League. After tasting the money and glamour of the Uefa Champions League last season he is right to see it as a step down, a distraction. Tottenham Hotspur need to concentrate all their efforts on getting back into the top four.
When it became clear in May that Spurs would be playing in the Europa League this season, Redknapp could not make his disappointment clearer, describing it as: “one of those competitions that teams get in and they try to get out of.” His stance hasn’t softened and he remains adamant that he will concentrate on the domestic campaign and play Tottenham’s youth and squad players in Europe. “The young lads will get plenty of games in the Europa League because otherwise I think it’s a killer…. You’ve got no chance in the Premier League with that.” While Spurs are still capable of competing for the top four it makes sense to throw everything at this domestic goal.
Manchester City and Liverpool have invested heavily while Spurs continue to struggle to lure top players because of the wage structure. There is a danger that they could fall behind these big spenders. Spurs may not be as close to their rivals again for some time and it would be foolish to chase Europa League glory when they can still aim higher. (Considering they have only had 1 season of Champions League football it is a triumph that they have kept up for so long).
Redknapp’s dismissal of Europa this season is not a slap in the face for the fans, it is a statement of intent and ambition at the football club. Europa is a bloated, second tier European competition with a dwindling prestige. With the prize money for winning the whole tournament estimated at around £5 million and a Champions League run dwarfing that amount, it is no surprise that the competition is now grudgingly accepted.
I will turn on my T.V. on Thusday night’s Channel 5, remembering that Europa did bring us some exciting European nights not so long ago and I will support Niko Kranjcar and Andros Townsend playing in a 2,000 capacity stadium in Georgia, but I will follow the Premier League with far greater concern and interest, because like Redknapp, I know that the only way Tottenham can move up a level is by finishing the season in the top four, and that’s going to take everything we have this season.