The Curse Of The Europa League

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The key to playing in any European club competition is having very good squad depth. That was not what Spurs had last season to play in the Europa League on Thursday nights. Their record on the Sunday after the European game our record last term was extraordinarily poor!

Going into the season, I was thinking that we could do well in this competition, get on a decent run and then who knows? But not for one minute did I think that our league form would suffer whilst playing in the Europa League.

Just to show you how our league form suffered, here our Premier League results after each Europa League game.

Tottenham 1-0 Swansea

Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham

Cardiff 0-1 Tottenham

Tottenham 1-0 Hull

Tottenham 0-1 Newcastle

Tottenham 2-2 Man United

Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool

Norwich 1-0 Tottenham

Tottenham 1-0 Cardiff

Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal

Tottenham 3-2 Southampton

Played: 11.  Won: 5. Drawn: 1. Lost: 5. Win%: 45.45. Loss%: 45.45

In my view, that record is not good enough for a side that is aiming for a top four finish. Two of those wins were only courtesy of a Roberto Soldado penalty. If we now look at Manchester City’s Premier League record after each Champions League game last season.

Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United

Manchester City 3-1 Everton

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City

Manchester City 3-0 Swansea

Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal

Manchester City 1-0 Stoke

Hull 0-2 Manchester City

Played: 8. Won: 6. Drew: 0. Lost: 2. Win%: 75. Loss%: 25

As you can quite clearly see, City’s record is much better than ours by a country mile. Now, I know that many of you Spurs fans sitting and reading this right now will be thinking ‘that’s not fair, City have a much better side than we do!’ Yes, I know what you mean, but the bottom line is that we need to improve our Premier League record after European games to stand any chance of achieving a top four finish next season.

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  1. Your falling into the same trap all of us fall into. Top 4 is well out of reach. The teams above us are better, richer and have improved there squads to level that is way beyond ours.

    We have one world class player (lloris) the rest are very average. We should finish 6th place this season as we are the 6th best and 6th richest team.

    Our best chance of champions league footbal is the Europa league. Simple as that.

    This isn't a negative comment, it's just realistic.

    • Part 1:
      I could make a strong counter-argument that I would consider to be equally realistic – therefore your claim to be being 'just realistic' is just that, a claim.

      We have a very good young squad, who were poorly managed last season, and had seven overseas players, six of whom were under 25 YO at point of signing, and one of whom, Eric Lamela, is one of the most highly rated players his age, not in England, not in Europe, but in the World. It is crazy, IMHO, to imagine that they would not benefit either from a year's experience in the EPL or from jsut being a year older and more mature, but they will be older and more mature 'and' have a year's experience in the EPL. When we sold Berbatov we invested in young talent and gained two points from eight games – until a new manager came in and galvanized the squad. Eighteen months later we were in the CL. Is it really so crazy to see parallels with our post-Bale acquisitions? Except that this time we gained 69 points while have a disaster of a season, and have players like Lloris, Vertonghen, Sandro (etc) at the club already, before our shopping spree. I totally refute your claim that, Lloris aside, our squad is 'very average'.

      It is true that we can't outspend our rivals (as things stand – though we do punch above our weight in the transfer market via having the money to spend from sales like Modric and Bale. That does mean that finishing anything above than sixth is punching above our weight (something we have done with reasonable regularity in the last decade with the main hiatus being the disastrous appointment of Ramos and its aftermath) – and accepting that 'is' realistic. But that neither means we can't, nor that we won't continue to be a very real threat to the top 4, or maybe even break into it. That can only be achieved if we have an alternative plan and that is why we need an alternative plan.

      So, do we have an alternative plan to one of trying to outspend wealthier club? And the answer is a very clear and very obvious 'yes'. It is the clubs youth policy (for which we include young over 16 YO players bought into the club, and the entire under 21/under 18 set-up).

      When GHodd was dismissed, Daniel Levy appointed Pleat for the best part of a season, with zero expectations, while he took a moratorium. In that time, having seen that hiring an inspirational club legend manager wasn't going to work, he investigated best practice throughout England and Europe and then began a total revamping of the youth set-up and the acquisition of talent.

      It would be foolish, however, to look for an immediate turn-around (although we did begin, at this point, begin acquiring young talent and benefiting from it (two fifth place finishes under Martin Jol). The main thrust has to come through new methodologies taking affecting with 14 – 15 YO's. And that is exactly what we are seeing, already. To be effective this policy isn't about producing a few superstars, but in producing a steady stream of 1st team AND squad players, and players to sell on at a profit. And already, if you look at our squad, there are a large number who would have been 15 or younger when Frank Arnesen first took charge as DoF. Also, we sold Caulker last summer for £8 million, Livermore this season for £6 million – that is £14 million in the transfer kitty.

    • Part 2:

      And, as someone who takes a keen interest in the youth set-up, the under 18's are even more highly rated than the under 21's. And they is the under 21's who were majorly impressive in the Next Gen a few seasons back, until rather bizarrely disqualifying themselves by fielding an ineligible player (destroyed Barcelona 4 – 1 in the Camp Nou). Season before last, the under 21's romped home with the under 21's league southern, scoring twice as many goals as the second and third placed teams together, while having an excellent defence – only to lose the North/South final against United after going two goals up and hitting the woodwork three times in the first half, and the game was, for some reason, played in Old Trafford! Likewise, this season, our under 18's dominated the southern section only to lose the North/South final by a single goal to Everton, and the game was, for some reason, played at Goodison! There seems to be a pattern with the finals…! In any case, Bentaleb broke into the 1st team and into the Algeria World Cup squad, where he hardly disgraced himself – and plenty of observers will tell you Veljkovic is as highly rated. When Liam Brady quit his job with the Arse*al academy, last season, he stated his opinion that Spurs have the best youth personnel in the country. I have read a report where the scouts of Chelsea and Arse*al have complained that whenever they get wind of a particularly exciting youth prospect anywhere in London, they get there to give the kid the once over only to find Spurs representatives signing the kid on.

      On top of this, we have the best training centre in England, if not Europe. In terms of finances, we, alongisde Arse*al are the best situated in terms of FFP (and already Citeh have fallen foul of it). Liverpool (the fifth wealthiest club, though I note no-one is saying they have no chance of making the top 4), who would have fallen massively foul of FFP if they had qualified for Europe the season before last (i.e. to have played in it last year), remain ahead of us, but through careful financial management and dealings the gap has halved in the last decade. A large part of the Goons financial advantage comes from match-day revenues – and we have just received confirmation of the CPO that should have held development up for three months, but for some reason took 18 months for the powers to reach a decision. A great deal of work has also been done on developing new markets to grow the global fan-base.

      In this time, Liverpool have received an extra seasons CL money, because UEFA decided to make a decision with immediate effect just to benefit them (even though there usual policy is to make a decision applicable for the following season), the same decision that cost us a seasons' CL money – yeah, cheers for that Septic Bladder! And Citeh have been gifted a huge dollop of oil money. Otherwise our development would be even more advanced.

      Our rivals have done a lot of business, already. We haven't. We have done one bit of business, however, in signing this lad:

      Now, from what I have been told, there is a good chance, even at his tender age, that he could be appearing in the 1st team before long. And there was general amazement in the footballing World that we got him, as he was expected to go to Citeh or Barcelona of some such. What do you make of that? Wouldn't you rather get, prospectively, the 'next big thing' in African football, rather than someone who couldn't quite cut it?

      So, that is my case for arguing that there is no reason to make such a miserable prognosis and to refute your claim to be 'just realistic'. You can disagree with me, and that is fine, but I see nothing at all to make your argument more realistic.

      Sorry, I know it's a bit long, but it is the only way I can show why I so completely disagree with you :)

  2. Yes we do need to improve our PL form after EL games, but comparing our results against Man City's is a little daft imo. Especially when three of our 5 losses came from teams that finished above us. Only the Norwich and Newcastle games we realistically should have come away with something.


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