When Tottenham Hotspur lost to PAOK on the second to last matchday of the Europa League group stage, nobody at White Hart Lane really shed a tear. Losing is never fun and trophies are always nice, but Spurs never cared too much for the Europa League. Maybe that wasn't too bright of an idea, though?
The teams that Spurs played in the competition were filled with reserves and youngsters and the priority was always on the league. Tottenham's focus was on finishing in the top four and returning to the Champions League. That was the European competition that mattered. So Spurs crashed out of the Europa League. Big deal.
Spurs were essentially knocked out of the competition on that second to last matchday back on November 30. At the time, Spurs were bunched up with several teams battling for a top four position. Keeping players healthy and fresh for the league were what mattered.
Now, Spurs are comfortably in third place and the gap between them and fourth place is two times as big as the gap between them and second place. They can afford to redirect some attention to another competition. If there is a slip up in league, it won't be a killer for Tottenham. If a slip up in league meant a trophy elsewhere, well, maybe it is worth it.
That, win a trophy, risk a slip up attitude is what some have begun to suggest for the club in the FA Cup. There is glory in the FA Cup with the history of the competition and the final at Wembley. Europa League was never going to get the same kind of respect, or will it?
With surprises that dropped Manchester City and Manchester United to the Europa League, the knockout stages featured those two clubs, along with Ajax, Schalke, Valencia, Lazio, Udinese, PSV Eindhoven. The Europa League suddenly had some cache. It had that respect and winning it was no longer a blip on the radar screen. It became a big deal and a major accomplishment. Winning that trophy would carry weight, much in the same way the FA Cup would.
Now that Spurs are in a great position to take third place in league, maybe the club would have been wise to have paid Europa League a little more attention. All of a sudden, it matters some.