Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas admitted in his press conference this week that keeping his best players at the club is ‘intimately related’ to Champions League qualification.
Whilst he didn’t mention Gareth Bale by name, the Welshman is undoubtedly Spurs’ best player and, having been courted by Real Madrid, the North Londoners must surely secure a top-four finish to keep him at White Hart Lane.
Bale has pledged his loyalty to the club but has also admitted that the allure of playing for Real Madrid is a temptation he described as a ‘dream’.
“Keeping your best players is intimately related to how you foresee your future and the objectives you might get in the season,” conceded Villas-Boas.
“Hopefully we can do just that by qualifying for the Champions League and continuing to progress on what we are doing.”
Spurs were very unlucky to miss out on Europe’s most prestigious competition last year – they finished fourth and would have qualified had it not have been for Chelsea winning the competition, despite placing 6th in the Premier League.
A narrative like that is unlikely to happen two consecutive seasons and Spurs are currently in fine form, and are currently in 4th position. They have put together an unbeaten run of 9 games as they head into a tough test against a rejuvenated Newcastle United side at White Hart Lane this weekend.
With Jermain Defoe injured, they’ll be reliant on Bale to be their ‘magic man’ and he rarely disappoints his manager or the Spurs faithful. However, I wonder how much longer the 23-year-old will be inclined to carry the team. He is surely capable of it, but the top players invariably want to play with and against the best.
I have little doubt that Spurs will qualify for the Champion’s League this term – they will have learned their lessons the hard way after falling away so dramatically under Harry Redknapp last season and I can’t envision a replication of that under Villas-Boas.
They do still have some very good clubs breathing down their necks in the league, though. Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool will chase them right down to the wire and the pressure is all on Tottenham at this stage.
They can’t afford to slip or they will not only lose out on the Champions League but they could very well lose their best player.
image: © Jan S0L0