Having successfully qualified to the group stages of the Europa League we now stand set to clock up a mouth-watering 8500 air miles from the group stage alone. Trips to Moldova, Russia and what might aswell be Narnia do little for our teams fitness and overall wellbeing in the long run, (The Cup Finalists play 21 games each) documented somewhat superbly by Thursday nights 3-0 win over Tromso in which Moussa Dembele, Danny Rose and Younes Kaboul all had to leave the field of play due to injuries. But then again, this competition could stand as a chance for us to place our hands on a peace of meaningful silverware.
Last season we were ejected from the competition playing against FC Basle after Emmanuel Adebayor decided to reenact his ‘Just Dance 2’ game from the night before in his run up to the penalty and Brad Friedel – who fit into a high line formation like he would into a babies cot – reacted with the speed and tenacity of roadkill to each penalty. Even before that, our failure to win away in any aspect of the competition (Group Stages and Qualifying) did little to inspire confidence in any aspect of our play.
This season however (So far), we are a changed squad. The departure of Gareth Bale allowed Levy and Baldini to bring in the perfect blend of both young talent and seasoned internationals, providing a deeper squad depth of technically proficient (I say technically proficient because everyone remembers Scott Parker away to Inter Milan) players all eager to play each game. Whether or not mid-week ties away to FC Tromso are close to the Champions League drug that both fans and players crave is another thing.
Whilst there is no doubt that there will be an established first XI, the Europa League provides more than ample opportunity for both the younger and fringe players in the squad to push for a starting spot. The quality of the teams in our group; Tromso and Sheriff relative nobodies (They’re not on FIFA) and Anzi Machanhcdsakljcvfakla having sold most of their star players in the Summer mean that on paper we should cruise through the group with our main players rested.
With the current state of the Premier League, much is left open to guess. Manchester United, City and Chelsea are all under new management and are struggling with results in the opening stages of the season, meaning the early points that these teams lose only hand us a larger advantage in our hunt for the sacred top four spot. Matches away to teams whose Wikipedia entry is about as in-depth and fruitful as Bobby Zamora’s goal-scoring record increase the chances of us inevitably losing away to Hull one week on the back of an overnight five hour flight to Moldova.
Whatever happens, the UEFA cup is a piece of silverware and one which although carries somewhat halfarsed connotations in todays age of the ‘armchair fan’ and amidst ‘footy banter’ Twitter pages has previously formed such an integral part of our history, winning it twice both in 1972 and 1984 aswell as that of AVB’s announcing his name on the World Stage by winning it at Porto. If you offered the trophy to me now, I’d take it. Sure it’s going to be a long, bumpy and at times frustrating ride, but well that’s Spurs all over.
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