Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood has insisted his club’s poor Premier League form following Europa League games cannot be used as an excuse if they fail to secure a top four finish this season.
Sherwood’s side have picked up just ten points from a possible 27 in domestic games that followed European dates, with their latest defeat at Norwich last Sunday coming hot on the heels of a loss against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine four days earlier.
Spurs face a similar schedule this week as they prepare for the second leg of the Dnipro tie, before welcoming Cardiff to White Hart Lane on Sunday.
“I wouldn’t use it as an excuse and I never have, but you’d have to say that the record [in Premier League] isn’t fantastic, both home and away, after home games and away games in Europe,” Sherwood admitted.
“The next result has not been great, so the facts suggest that but I wouldn’t use it as an excuse myself. We still want to progress in this competition. It means a lot to us.
We’re not blessed with a lot of trophies recently and I think it’s an opportunity to progress in this opportunity and still fight for that fourth place.
“It’s a long competition. The hardest one, you would have to say, on quality is the Champions League, but on endurance it surely must be the Europa League because you’re getting the drop-outs from the Champions League.
“We’ve still got some massive teams left, so it’s a really tough one to win. It is sapping because you have all the games, but we’d rather have the games and worry about picking up the points after the games, in the league.”
Sherwood is confident of turning around a 1-0 first leg deficit against Dnipro on Thursday, even though he accepts the visiting team will be a threat as they look for an away goal at White Hart Lane.
“We realise that they [Dnipro] have got threats,” Sherwood added. “They’ve got pace on the counter-attack. We didn’t learn as much as we would have liked about their defence, but I’m hoping that we’ll learn [from the first leg] because we’re going to try to get on the front foot and push them back and see how they defend.
“We know they’ve got threats on the counter-attack but we have to deal with that, it’s as simple as that. There’s no point in waiting until the last five minutes of the game and then deciding that we’re now going to come out and play. We need to come out and play from the start and hopefully we can put this [tie] to bed.”
Sherwood confirmed that much-maligned Spain striker Roberto Soldado will start against Dnipro, while midfielder Sandro is fit to return after two-and-a-half months on the sidelines. Kyle Walker may also return from a hip injury.