Why Tottenham must deem this a success regardless

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas

Tottenham’s season shouldn’t be defined by the Champions League. I’ve mentioned it in the past and will continue to carry the thought that the Champions League isn’t the most important goal in football. It certainly isn’t if you’re one of the many clubs who enter but have no chance of winning. Instead, this season will be about Tottenham finally finding stability through a manager who they can attain long-term objectives with.

I get that fans have a connection with the European nights and that Tottenham especially would love to rediscover the joys of the 2010-11 season. The fact that Europe offers that hugely beneficial financial windfall also means that fans try to make some sense of the competition helping their club to grow. But that aside, you can’t seriously argue that Tottenham are stagnating in English football.

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It wasn’t too long ago that this team were being praised as the most attractive to watch in the Premier League. The manager of that time was rightly moved on for one reason or another, and now you have a younger tactician who is willing to explore much more of the game than just simple man management. For whatever may have been said about Andre Villas-Boas at the start of the campaign, it remains a fact that Tottenham are building for the long term and it would be wholly unreasonable to expect instant results.

The Champions League would be the icing on the cake for what has been largely a good season. It’s important to analyse the smaller details that have made this season a step forward for Tottenham. The win at Old Trafford was a fantastic achievement, and Tottenham can take plenty of pride in their performance in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea. Moreover, it’s the attitude that Tottenham have displayed in plenty of the bigger games this season that suggests that they’re far from beaten before kick-off.

I will never advocate the idea that Champions League football is the only way to attract top players. It’s a myth that’s never really been true, but rather made up to force a greater spectacle in the race for a top four spot. Take a look around the clubs who competed in the Europa League this season. In fact, look at the clubs who were not entered into a European competition this season and there will be plenty who are good enough for the best teams in England. Spurs shouldn’t worry about attracting good players this summer. What they can offer is a shrewd manager who is willing to invest in youth and a long-term project that is likely to reap the benefits of many years in England’s top four.

It also would have been a great marker for Villas-Boas’ first season if he had progressed further in the Europa League, but failure to land a trophy isn’t something that will mar this season. In fact, it’s a little uncomfortable to use the word “failure.” Tottenham have a chairman who appears to be on the same page as the manager, and some of the signings made during the summer have made more and more sense as the season’s progressed. Once again, there is no great disappointment in failing to land a striker in January; Daniel Levy understands the market well and his first-choice options – and those best suited for Tottenham – are likely to be available this summer.

If Tottenham finish fifth it will still count as a positive season. What it will prove is that they’re a team who haven’t been able to establish that experience of finishing in the top four, and there really is no shame in that. Who are they up against? Three teams who have been regulars in the top four for years and a fourth club who have been bankrolled into that position. It doesn’t really need dressing up that Spurs can’t compete with that.

But provided this summer is a positive one – and there is plenty to suggest it will be – Tottenham have enough in place to ensure they remain on the ascendency, and specifically off the back of a season which can be deemed a step in the right direction.

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