Opinion: Europe vs domestic stability: Tottenham’s 2021/22 season

Image: SpursWeb

It seems like just yesterday that Hugo Lloris led us out to face Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League Final in Madrid. Since that night, so much has changed for our club, but some things, namely the bad, remain the same.

Ever since José Mourinho walked through the doors at Hotspur Way, the first thing on almost every Spurs fan’s mind has been a trophy, and our recent lack thereof.

I believe that silverware is a must if Mourinho is to stay at the club in the long term, and although we sit mere weeks away from a possible Carabao Cup win, this season as a whole has been somewhat lacklustre.

In patches, we have looked like a great team. Barely five months ago, we sat top of the Premier League, and although die-hard Spurs fans knew it was nothing more than a pipe-dream, we still dared to dream that a title challenge could be on the cards. 

We now sit outside the top four, with a tough run of fixtures seemingly indicating that next season will be our second consecutive campaign without the top-tier of Europe’s elite gracing the halls of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

This brings me to my argument: Europe or Stability?

By no means am I suggesting that Europe as a whole should be something we see as unattainable next season. After all, we are still in with a chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Instead, I am talking about the more realistic chances of qualifying again for the Europa League, the competition we were heralded as early favourites for, before being dumped out in the last-16 to Dinamo Zagreb.

Firstly, what are the positives? European football in whatever form brings exposure, finances and firepower to the club.

In a season where we haven’t seen more than 2,000 people inside our stadium, the extra finances drummed up by another European competition would be a welcome boost to the board and all involved after a COVID ravaged financial season.

It is also important if we are looking to delve into the transfer market on multiple fronts this coming summer; a situation I see as unlikely due to the aforementioned budget constraints.

But do we really want to prioritise a run in the Europa League over a full season of stabilising, re-building, and hopefully coming back stronger?

Say we miss out on all European Football next season. It is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that either Harry Kane or Heung-min Son will leave the club this summer.

There just won’t be the right offers on the table, and financially it would be unviable for clubs to fork out an asking price of well over £100 million for a striker, when costs are being cut more than ever.

If we could promise them Champions League football the season after next, I see no reason why our two star men would not stick it out and remain loyal to us for one more year.

Answer me this; do you think our squad is strong enough to go deep into the Champions League? With the obvious exception of Kane and Son, we are severely lacking in firepower worthy of going far in the tournament.

Would we not perhaps be better off using next season as a chance to completely start a-fresh?

As said previously, I don’t expect us to do much business in the summer, but I would expect a couple of smaller, shrewd signings similar to our swoop of Pierre Emile Højbjerg from Southampton last year.

In my mind, there are three main positions we need to strengthen; we need a young, talented, Premier League proven goalkeeper (yes Nick Pope, I’m talking about you), a strong, reliable centre-back, and a right back. 

If we built up a squad from the strong foundations we no doubt have (Højbjerg, Reguilon, Kane, Son, Moura) and used the season to really grow the likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovanni Lo Celso, Steven Bergwijn, Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp, then perhaps we could give ourselves the chance to really go for the Premier League. 

We need to remember that these things happen slowly, and we aren’t going to become a world-beating side overnight, and more than likely not in the immediate future.

But we have a wealth of talent in our squad that is either under-utilised, devoid of confidence or lacking in experience.

A year to focus solely on finishing in the top four would surely help these players on their way, ready for a fresh attempt at Champions League football the season after.

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