Everton were the last club to dislodge the top four back in 2005 but found themselves beaten in the Champions League qualifier by Villarreal. Should Tottenham avoid the same fate and compete in the Champions League group stages, it will be a chance to propel the club to Europe’s highest level. Gareth Bale summed up the opportunity for Spurs:
“It’s a massive stepping stone for Tottenham, making us a bigger club, and I think if we can qualify then the whole team will improve from playing at the highest level. Obviously we don’t know who we’ve got yet but [the qualifier] is going to be a massive game and, when we do find out, we’ll be prepared and ready and hopefully we can get into the group stage.”
Barring understandable losses away at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, and The Emirates the noticeable dropped points in the season came against Stoke at home, Wolves at home and away, and Sunderland away. But when looking at the season as a whole there have been a string of similar results for most of the title contenders so to levy the charge solely against Spurs wouldn’t be fair. What is perhaps more fair a judgment is that consecutive wins against Chelsea and Arsenal, coupled with defeating Manchester City at home and, crucially, away prove the team has the quality required to challenge for the title – not just the top four. Consistency remains the key to success and, as Ancelotti commented in April, should Redknapp inspire his team to truly believe they can dislodge Chelsea or Manchester United (Tottenham’s record against United is indicative of the last hurdle that needs addressing) then the title is very much a warranted ambition:
“Tottenham haven’t played with continuity, but have played football with very good quality. They are a team that likes to play. They have very good players with a lot of quality. They could challenge next season – they can fight for the title.”
I would love to know how Spurs fans rate their team’s chances in the title race next season. Would fourth be enough considering the incoming signings at Eastlands in particular? Or should the white half of North London want more?