You know and I know that the Europa League is kind of a drag. Sure, it's European competition, and sure there's glory (and a Champions League place) if a team wins it all, but to get to that end a club has to slog through as many as 21 matches. That's a lot of extra games, especially when you're already competing in the league and two cup competitions. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino seems to understand that too, and in recent comments to the media he seemed to indicate that, y'know, not qualifying for Europa might not be so bad.
"You spend a lot of energy when you play in the Europa League but you never know. It is true the experience of last season with Liverpool and now with Man United -- I think that is a clear example that maybe you will have the opportunity to stay closer to reach the top four if you only have focus on the Premier League and the cups.
The Europa League is not an easy competition. It is a very tough competition because it affects your domestic league and I confirm -- because it always was my opinion at Southampton because you ask a lot -- it is very difficult to manage the Europa League and Premier League and both cups."
Spurs were at one point early in the calendar year still involved in all four available competitions, and I'm not sure there's much doubt that the sheer amount of matches Spurs played in January and February took their toll on the players. There's a real argument – and Pochettino makes it – that it's easier to concentrate on getting a high domestic league place when you're not thinking about having to travel to Slovenia for that Europa League group stage match.
So why not just pull a Redknapp and tank the Europa League every season? Well, Poche goes into that too.
"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 is 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, and after if you reach the top four, fantastic, but you need to be competitive and ambitious to make the conditions to fight for the top positions."
I don't think there's any evidence that Pochettino is going to try and play the system so that he doesn't have to play in Europa next year, but based on these quotes you get the sense that he wouldn't be too disappointed if they were forced to take a break from second-tier European competition for a season.