Tottenham Hotspur: FA Cup glory or Champions League – What’s more important to you?
Many top flight managers have been criticised this season in the FA Cup for resting established first team stars in order to give some of their fringe players a chance to get some game time and show what they can do. Harry Redknapp insists that he will never fall into that category.
The former Portsmouth boss, who enjoyed FA Cup success just two years ago with the Fratton Park club, says he will name his strongest side for the trip to Bolton Wanderers this weekend and he has to be commended for that, but considering Spurs are right in the hunt for a top four finish is it the wisest move to make?
Premier League giants Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all crashed out of the FA Cup this season and every side left believes they have a great chance of reaching Wembley. Spurs, who have won the competition eight times, are one of the favourites to lift the trophy now, but could they cope if one or two of their star names picked up serious injuries at the Reebok?
Tottenham’s league form has been worrying this past month and their disappointing defeat to Wolves in midweek saw them slip to sixth in the race for a Champions League place. However, they remain just one point behind Liverpool and Manchester City – although City have two games in hand – and have some huge fixtures with those in and around them yet to play. They need their best players available for the league campaign surely if they are to finally clinch a top four finish because it’s widely expected that if Manchester City don’t break into the Champions League spots this season they will do next year. This is arguably Tottenham’s best opportunity to qualify for the Champions League.
But what’s more important to the fans – A Champions League place or the FA Cup? The FA Cup has taken a bit of a beating in recent years as attendances have fallen, managers have treated the competition as nothing more than a distraction and some players – Paul Kitson – even claim that staying in the Premier League is more important than winning the FA Cup. Yet what looks better in the trophy cabinet, the FA Cup or the simple fact that you finished fourth or avoided the drop? Everybody wants to win trophies, that is what football is all about. Just ask Arsenal fans.
The glitz, the glamour and the money that the Champions League can produce though has seen it overtake the FA Cup as the most prominent competition in England. Reaching the Champions League is seen by some clubs (Arsenal and Liverpool) as more important than actually winning the Premier League. However, qualifying for Europe’s top competition is vital if you want to sign the best players in the world and test yourself against the best clubs in Europe. It is also a yardstick of how far you have progressed. Martin Jol came agonisingly close to beating Arsenal to a top four spot a few years back and all Spurs fans would love to see the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich at the Lane. But would they not rather add to their tally of FA Cups in the trophy cabinet?
It’s been 19 years since Spurs last lifted the FA Cup and Harry Redknapp is going all out to end that barren record. However, Spurs haven’t won at the Reebok for 14 years and three of their five meetings in the FA Cup have needed a replay. That is surely something they can do without this season.
So Tottenham fans, what is more important to you – winning the FA Cup or qualifying for the Champions League? I’d love to hear from you.