Tottenham have more immediate concerns than the Europa League. Their manager Harry Redknapp’s health, usurping Arsenal and Chelsea as the top team in London and qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Why, though, is the Europa League so far down their list of priorities?
Having stumbled to a victory against Rubin Kazan at White Hart Lane, despite resting the majority of their first team players and consequently playing poorly, Tottenham decided to rest even more players for the away fixture against Rubin Kazan. This time they limped to a defeat, losing 1-0, and they posed no significant threat at all. Brad Friedel, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Vedran Corluka, Kyle Walker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Luka Modric, Emmanuel Adebayor, Rafael Van der Vaart, Gareth Bale, Scott Parker and so on were all left out.
Tottenham, after all, are a team with a fantastic European history. The club were the inaugural winners of the UEFA Cup, the predecessor to the Europa League, in 1972, and then they won the competition again in 1984. Besides the UEFA Cup Tottenham Hotspur also won the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, the now defunct competition, in 1963. Doing so the North London club became the first British side to win a UEFA European competition. Tottenham and European football, in particular the UEFA Cup, are associated.
This season, however, Tottenham just don’t seem to care. Of course, in this period of time, there is little prestige in the competition, especially when compared to it’s older bigger brother the UEFA Champions League. There is little money too. Far less, in fact, when compared to the UEFA Champions League. The winner of the Champions League will make close to £60 million. The winner of the Europa League will make something closer to £20. Just taking part in the Champions League group stages guarantees several million pounds. Taking part in the Europa League means very little until the knock out stages.
Tottenham, however, are not Barcelona or Manchester United and their disdain for the competition serves them no good at all. Tottenham’s image and brand would be served wonders by a glorious Europa League campaign. Tottenham’s fans would enjoy a triumphant European campaign that ended in glory. Tottenham’s players want to win trophies. Tottenham’s coffers would be boosted by a Europa League victory. There are plenty of reasons why Tottenham should begin to take this competition seriously and the likelihood is the club probably will if the team make it to the knock out stages. At this stage, looking at the group table, it appears likely that they will. Tottenham have been afforded the opportunity to rest certain players and give valuable playing time to the likes of Andros Townsend, Danny Rose, Jake Livermore, Iago Falque, Harry Kane and Tom Carroll. All of these youngsters have promising futures and it is quite feasible that two or three of them might establish themselves in the Tottenham first team squad over the coming couple of seasons. For the current season, and for the next Europa League fixture, it is more important that Tottenham think about now.
Tottenham have a real chance of success in the Europa League, something even the bookmakers have acknowledged, and a genuine attempt at glory in Europe shouldn’t derail the club’s domestic efforts to much at this stage of the season. The squad is large, has ample cover, and genuine ambition, incentive and talent. Tottenham should attack on all fronts. Tottenham have a historical association with European football. The club ought not to forget the legacy.