AVB: Europa League is important
Harry Redknapp went out of his way to dismiss the Europa League as a worthless prize during his time as Tottenham manager, but his successor has a very different view on the second-string UEFA competition.
Andre Villas-Boas made his name as a club manager by winning the Europa League with FC Porto in May 2011 and he insists there is room for European glory in his first season at White Hart Lane, as he prepares for the away match against Panathinaikos on Thursday evening.
"I don't understand why the profile of this competition is so low in England when it is raised in other countries across Europe," Villas-Boas said. "It seems to be viewed as a punishment in England and this makes no sense.
"I'm not in a position to criticise other managers' approach to this competition, but I have total respect for the Europa League. You could build a great team from the English players who have won this trophy through the years, so I will give it my total attention this season."
Tottenham's coach Tony Parkes is among those who have got their hands on the European trophy Villas-Boas has his eyes on this season, with the goalkeeper emerging as the penalty shoot-out hero as Tottenham beat Anderlecht in the final of the 1984 edition of the UEFA Cup, a competition that has now morphed into the Europa League.
Now Villas-Boas is hoping Parkes can emphasise what this competition could do for modern day Spurs stars who head into European action on a real high after their historic win against Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend.
"Ask Tony Parkes what it means to win this trophy and he will confirm it was a good moment in his career," Villas-Boas added.
"I remember the time when English clubs could not compete in European competitions and everyone felt the ban. Now we have a chance to play in these games, we have to take advantage.
"The overall objective in Greece is to get the points to progress in this competition and we also have a chance to have an education process for the players. If this club has ambitions to win the Champions League one day, we have to get used to playing in these situations, both physically and mentally. There is a rotation of players that can happen in certain positions, but I am always to field the strongest team possible."
France captain Hugo Lloris is set to start in goal for Tottenham against a Panathinakos side that will be searching for their first win in six matches, after a woeful run of form has left them well off the pace being set by leaders Olympiakos in the Greek league.