Without the Europa League we may never have witnessed the turn of events that has fused Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur together.
Despite a negative view of the tournament in England, the Spurs boss has come out in defence of Europe’s number two club competition.
The 33-year-old fielded a strong side in both of Tottenham’s opening two group games, and has laid down a statement of intent in the press by suggesting that the Europa League should be used as a learning curb for the Champions League.
Both AVB and Spurs have a history in the competition, lifting the trophy a combined three times, and both manager and club should be keen to continue this record of success.
It has been four years since Spurs last won a trophy, and with the talent AVB has on offer at White Hart Lane, fans will be demanding that more will follow.
Champions League qualification has been one of the manager’s top priorities this season, however it should not be viewed in isolation to determine whether the former Chelsea boss has succeeded or failed in his first year in charge.
Financially the rewards of Champions League qualification may seem more inviting, but fans dream of success and there can be worse things that AVB can do this year than delivering Spurs a European trophy.
Success in the Europa League can also help facilitate success in the Champions League, not just through building a winning mentality, but also through UEFA’s bizarre and complex club coefficient rankings. The rankings help to determine the seedings for Champions League groups, and are one of the reasons why successful teams in Europe gain a favourable group stage draw year after year.
This favourable route is often nurtured in the Europa League. For example, Braga, the side that AVB’s Porto beat in the 2011 final, were seeded in the second pot in this year’s Champions League group stage draw, ahead of former winners Juventus, Dortmund and Ajax, all who won their respective domestic titles last year.
As we have seen in the way that the draw has unfolded for Braga, Dortmund and Ajax the tiniest advantage in the draw can often help determine who will remain in the competition after Christmas.
The league within a league characteristics of the coefficient rankings mean that even those teams that finish third in their Champions League group are still given an opportunity to enhance their chances in next year’s competition through further participation in this year’s Europa League.
With the exception of the top four or five ranked clubs in Europe, no side can afford to pass up the chance to improve or solidify their place amongst the continent’s premier clubs.