Spurs boss admits Europa League involvement damages a top-four challenge
Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham’s involvement in the Europa League has undermined their Premier League campaign this season, and concedes it would be better to concentrate fully on the fight for the top four.
However, Spurs’ head coach says the continental competition is “good for the financial side of the club” and insists he will be aiming to win the final five games.
Pochettino said last season, during his time in charge of Southampton, that “the Europa League is not an attractive competition” and that it “kills you” in the league.
He was forced to be more positive about the tournament when he took charge of Spurs, who had already qualified for Europe, and has hidden his true feelings for most of the campaign.
However, he said today: “It’s true that it’s better to play in the Champions League than the Europa League. The Europa League is not an easy competition, it’s a very tough competition because it affects your domestic league.
“It was always was my opinion at Southampton and you’ve asked me a lot, and I can now confirm it is very difficult to manage the Europa League and the Premier League and both cups.
“Would we be closer to the top four if we hadn’t been in the Europa League? Maybe, it’s possible. You spend a lot of energy when you play in the Europa League, it’s not easy, but you never know.
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“You look at the experience last season with Liverpool and now with Manchester United, and I think it’s a clear example that maybe you will have the opportunity to stay closer to reaching the top four if you only have to focus on the Premier League and the cups.”
That echoes the feelings of many Spurs fans, but Spurs may well qualify for the Europa League, whether they want to or not.
The fifth and sixth-placed teams are set to take places in the competition for next season and, if Arsenal win the FA Cup, the seventh-placed team will also enter the Europa League.
But, for Pochettino, all of this is academic as Tottenham will be bidding to win their remaining games and finish as high as possible.
“In football you need to try and take the positive results and always win,” he said. “If you achieve the Europa League it might not be the dream of the club or the supporters but you need to play it because it’s good for the financial side of the club.
“The most important thing is to be ambitious and to understand we need to try and build a strong team for next season, to fight for the top four.
“We need to be clever and analyse things after May 24 and then move quickly to build the team. If we achieve the Europa League or not, we need to move quickly.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs