Tottenham are alive in all competitions, however a cross road arrives as a busy Schedule awaits. How should Pochettino prioritize?
The Europa League, a competition belittled by the Champions League playing clubs and shunned by excuses by clubs that barely qualified for it, is often referred to as the second division of the Champion’s League. Until off late, the clubs participating in the competition often played a second string team as they considered the tournament a waste of talent. However with the intention of making the competition more interesting, UEFA have added the incentive of allowing the winners to qualify for Champion’s League the next season.
Tottenham have built somewhat of a reputation in the competition, being the highest ranked premier league club to take part in this tournament. Spurs have participated in the Europa League 13 times and also won it twice and are 4th among all clubs under the UEFA Europa club rankings. They also have the highest goal difference in competition’s history and have remained a force to reckon with in the league. Jermain Defoe and Jugern Klinsman are amongst the top scorers of the competition. One could that this competition has been made exclusively for Tottenham Hotspur to win.
Mauricio Pochettino and where he stands
Mauricio Pochettino has had mixed runs of luck. Although alive in all 4 of the competitions his team is playing in, they are struggling in the most important one of the lot, the Premier League. Tottenham are currently struggling in the Premier League. With six wins three draws and six losses. Amassing 21 points they currently sit in 10th place, within 6 points of reaching the 4th spot. However with just 8 points ahead of the relegation zone, even a single slip up will make the side loose or gain more that 3 to 5 places. Tottenham needs to change their attitude and style of play so as to put a plug on their constant need to concede. The club also needs a striker, as majority of their goals have come from midfielders such as Eriksen, Chali and the lot. If either of them were to be injured for a long term, Tottenham are sure to struggle.
Tottenham are yet in the Quarter Finals of the League cup as they prepare to face an in form Newcastle United. They have already lost to the Toons in the Premier League and a loss here again will kick them out of the tournament. FA cup 3rd round is around the corner, and they face Burnley. However facing any opponent is a tough task coming forth, Tottenham must exercise caution and choose the right squad to progress in the tournament.
The Europa League path
Tottenham recently lost to the Turkish Besiktas, after having narrowly missed out finishing top of their group. Tottenham look set to face their next European opponents as the Champion’s League group stage knockouts make their way into the tournament. With an incentive of qualifying for the champions league. Tottenham should surely treat this tournament as a priority. With almost a very minimal chance of finishing top 4 in their current form. Tottenham need to find new ways to Qualify for the Champion’s League.
For the game in Turkey, Pochettino opted to travel with only one striker, Soldado. Adebayor having been sent home for personal reasons and Harry Kane left behind, most probably being rested for the clash in the weekend against Swansea. Tottenham could have easily topped the group winning against a Ba-less Besiktas had they played a full strength squad. However having qualified for the knock out stages Pochettino decided to experiment and travel with the least played and the injury return players.
Going forth, post Christmas is a time when the tough teams get going, and by no any new manager is expected to be settled with his strongest side and a contingency plan. With Pochettino however it is yet a mystery as there have been variations in personnel playing throughout the season and he has failed to find eleven players he would call his sure shot starting eleven.
Tottenham’s next three fixtures in the Premier League after this weekend’s Swansea clash are against Burnley, Leicester and Manchester United. For a team of Tottenham’s reputation, one would expect the next two games to be easy 3 points each and with the current form of the red devils, a hard fought draw. However being the unpredictable side that they are it is difficult to expect any result at all in all three games.
Of the nine teams above Tottenham, West Ham, New Castle and Swansea are the only three who have finished below Spurs in the recent seasons. IF we expect a drop in form for these teams and Tottenham to get things right, then there is hope for the club to reach top 6 and yet again qualify for the Europa League. However If they manage to hold on finish in a respectable position and concentrate all their might on the Europa League, a league in which they have consistently reached the Semi-Finals, their chances of qualifying for the Champions League just might be a reality.
Looking at it from an economic point of view. Clubs winning the League cup receive a mere 100,000 pounds. For winning the FA Cup a club would receive 2,000,000 pounds. In the Europa league if a team finished qualified, it receives a participation fee of 1 Million pounds. With incentives triggered for each round they progress into, a Europa League winner is to earn 4 million pounds. However this is dwarfed by the participation feed the Champions League pays which is close to 7 million pounds, and these amounts are excluding the payments for TV rights they would earn. This is why we see some of the top clubs prefer to play weakened sides in the cup competitions until the later stages when it becomes a matter of silverware.
Tottenham would greatly benefit by a victory in the Europa League. Not only will they earn a trophy that has evaded them all these years but will also benefit them financially and allow them to qualify for the champions league. Pochettino must stop aiming at a top four finish as it looks like a task that would be almost impossible to achieve if his current form were to continue. He must prioritize and focus all his might at winning the Europa League followed by finishing in the top half of the table in the Premier League and only then look into the FA cup and League Cup.