Ordinarily, a team of Champions’ League quality who is eliminated from the competition at the quarter-final stage following a 5-0 aggregate defeat, the final nail in the coffin being a 1-0 home defeat, isn’t warmly received by an encompassing applause as appreciation for their efforts. But Tottenham’s players had warranted the acclaim for providing their fans, and the rest of Europe, with one of the most entertaining campaigns of any team in continental competition this season.
Nobody attended White Hart Lane two weeks ago expecting a miraculous comeback from the 4-0 deficit created at the Bernabeu a week earlier, especially considering Jose Mourinho was occupying the opposing dug-out, but Spurs displayed flashes of brilliance, which is what has characterised their first ever Champions’ League journey from qualification against Young Boys up until victory at the San Siro against seven-time winners, AC Milan.
But what now for the Lilywhites? Spurs have drawn two and lost one League games since Madrid eliminated them and now find themselves behind Manchester City in the race for re-qualification with five games remaining and the sides set to meet in a potentially season-defining match at Eastlands on May 10th.
The financial repercussions the club will face for settling in the Europa League next season are far-reaching considering their most important assets have now announced themselves on a universal stage. On the surface, Tottenham’s stars appear committed to Harry Redknapp’s vision, even if it now includes a year without Champions’ League football, but it is not inconceivable to imagine Gareth Bale or Luka Modric leaving for big money this summer.
Europe’s richest are likely to exploit Tottenham’s failings by offering significant fees which chairman, Daniel Levy, would be forced to consider to cushion the loss of Champions’ League revenue.
More importantly, Redknapp’s squad is in need of improvement from its current condition, with the addition of at least one striker, perhaps midfield reinforcements and maybe another defender of the highest priority.
If they fail to finish in the top 4 this term, Redknapp will find it difficult to court the sort of quality he was able to chase last January, when a bid of around £38million was made for 22 year-old Sergio Aguero.
Redknapp has been defiant in his belief that Spurs can still achieve their target, recently claiming:
“I think we have always had the desire to get back in next season but it is not going to be easy. Manchester City finished a couple of points behind us last season and then went out and spent £150m to try to finish above us this year. It’s difficult.”
Spurs’ rise under Redknapp has been meteoric, and a sudden halt to the dramatic progress the club has made over the last two years could set them back a further couple of seasons. The difference between Tottenham and their closest rival is that Manchester City can of course still afford to attract any talent they desire even if they remain outside the top 4 this year.
It will be an intense and interesting race which will probably culminate at the Premier League’s natural conclusion in match-week 38, but the May 10th showpiece could provide us with an early indication as to whether City can join Europe’s elite, or whether Spurs can maintain their status amongst them.
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