English clubs chasing European carrot, says ex-Tottenham and QPR boss

Gerry Francis believes Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool should be going all out to win the Europa League as there is a Champions League place at stake.

It may not be regarded as the most glamorous of competitions, with Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock recently branding the Europa League ‘that horrible cup on a Thursday night’.

For Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, though, the competition provides an opportunity to join European football’s elite.

Whoever goes on to take the top prize in 2015 will be handed a place in next season’s Champions League.

With Spurs and the Reds struggling to force their way into top-four contention in the Premier League, they will suddenly be placing greater emphasis on success in continental competition.

They will, of course, not be the only ones, with there some big clubs ready to progress from the group stages and a few more set to drop into the last-32 from the Champions League.

Gerry Francis knows how tough challenging in the latter stages can be, having helped Stoke City progress back in 2011/12.

He believes his former employers at White Hart Lane should be going all out to claim major honours this season, with Mauricio Pochettino being urged to take Spurs’ campaign as seriously as possible.

Francis told Sky Sports News: “Absolutely, because there is a Champions League place there. You will find that a lot of English teams, Liverpool as well, there is an opportunity there for them now if they can win this tournament.

“Having been in it with Stoke a few years ago, it’s a tough old tournament to win. Down to the last 32 now after playing a lot of games, so it’s a drain on your squad.

“But certainly, from my point of view, he (Pochettino) would look at this tournament and say ‘We’ve got a major chance, maybe if we can do well, of getting into the Champions League through it’.”

Spurs face Besiktas on Thursday with their progress to the knockout stages already secured.

Liverpool, meanwhile, tumbled out of the Champions League on Tuesday after failing to claim the victory over Basel they required to prolong their involvement into the New Year.

Both will feel that they have enough strength in depth to challenge and English clubs have enjoyed success in the competition in recent times, with Chelsea going all the way in 2012/13.

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