LONDON -- Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood has admitted there is a “benefit” to missing out on the Europa League, but insists his team will not have that thought on their minds in the final four games of the season.
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Sherwood highlighted the success title-chasing Liverpool have enjoyed without any European commitments this term to back up his argument.
He also pointed to the poor results Tottenham suffered after Europa League games earlier in the campaign, which helped to dent their hopes of a top-four finish.
If Arsenal win the FA Cup and secure Champions League qualification, Tottenham and Manchester United will battle it out for the final spot available for next season’s Europa League. A third-round qualifier for the victor awaits, with the first leg played on July 31, just 18 days after the World Cup final.
While Sherwood did not go as far as saying he would prefer it if Spurs missed out on a place in the competition, he was less than complimentary of it.
“The last time we [Tottenham] qualified for the Champions League, the year before we were not in the Europa League,” Sherwood said. “The stats don’t lie, it certainly is a benefit [not to qualify].
“That said, I’m sure that everyone at this club wants to finish as high up as possible and we are certainly not going to go onto the field now with four games to go and try to lose a game so that we don’t qualify, that is just not going to happen.
“I’m not against the Europa League. It’s just the stats that are there say everything. The extra games mean I think we’ve ended up playing 12 more games than Liverpool have this season, and they’re challenging for the title because they didn’t have the Europa League.
“Is that why or is it because they’ve got a world-class striker like Luis Suarez that they managed to keep hold of? That’s always a factor. It certainly helps when you have a whole week to prepare for games. There is no guarantee, you still need good players to keep yourself challenging.”
Sherwood insisted his side would retain their focus, even though their primary objective of a top-four finish in the Premier League now looks beyond them.
“It’s important that we concentrate on the job in hand,” Sherwood said ahead of Saturday’s game against Fulham at White Hart Lane. “The boys get paid a lot of money to play for Tottenham and we owe it to the fans that will turn out and watch them to keep focused on the game. If I see they are not focused on the game, then they don’t play.
“The duty of care comes towards our fans, and playing for the shirt of the club, not worrying about anybody else. They’ve got themselves into that situation because they haven’t been great, and that’s the bottom line.
“The league doesn’t lie after 38 games and where you are is where you deserve to be. We’re going to be professional and we’re going to try to go there and entertain our fans and we’re going to attack. That’s what we’ve done ever since I’ve come to the club and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”