Why Tottenham need to reign in expectations
It has been quite a season for Spurs. Their eventful ride into the top four means they have the chance to play European Cup football for the first time since 1961.
Harry Redknapp has been talking about bringing in that “one special player” to brave Europe’s elite competition in a Spurs shirt, while the supporters are dreaming of a new glorious era and building a realistic title challenge.
Now far be it from me to rain on their parade and dampen expectations, but the fans need to keep their ambitions in check as plenty of banana skins lay ahead. The online odds suggest they will struggle to mount a title challenge again next season, and securing fourth could be just as tough as it was this time around.
For starters, their fourth place finish only guarantees them a spot in the qualifying rounds which, thanks to a recent reshuffle by UEFA, are now tougher to negotiate than in previous years. Spurs will have to be at their best at a very early stage in the season in order to progress.
Secondly, even if they make the group stages the players will have to adapt to coping with the extra games. Clubs like Spurs and Villa, who don’t have large squads like Man United or Chelsea, have spoken in the past about the difficulty of coping with the extra games Europe brings.
Although Spurs are likely to enjoy their ride in the Champions League more than the Europa League, they still have to pick up results in domestic fixtures as well. Too great a focus on Europe could see them slide down the league.
Thirdly, although the prize money on offer in the Champions League is significant, it will only bring long-term benefits to the club if they regularly appear in the competition and they progress far in it. A short ride in the group stage will not help the balance sheet, especially if they have heavily invested in players over the summer.
I don’t want to be a doom-monger in aftermath of Spurs fantastic achievement, the breaking of the big four is worth celebrating. But by doing so is only the beginning, with the hard work still ahead. The second Spurs sit back and admire their efforts is the moment they fall back down among the chasing pack.
Meanwhile, midfielder Tom Huddlestone will be looking to cap his season with a place a trip to the 2010 Football World Cup. He has been named in Fabio Capello’s provisional 30-man squad.