Tottenham Hotspur won this competition in it's former guise, the UEFA Cup, in 1971 and 1984. This season we begin our European adventure in Cyprus where we play AEL Limassol in the UEFA Europa League qualifying round first leg tomorrow.
Spurs new boss Mauricio Pochettino has had to revise his opinion of the tournament now he is with a side who expect European football and expect to do well in it. Last season he called the lengthy tournament uninteresting, unattractive and one that kills you.
The rules have changed this season and for the first time the winners of the UEFA Europa League will go into the following seasons UEFA Champions League. On the surface that gives hope to every club in the competition, in reality the last few finals have been contested by Champions League sides who dropped into the competition after losing in the Champions league.
Hardly a fair arrangement but one designed to ensure maximum revenue for Champions League clubs from European football, the reason the competition was devised in the first place.
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That rule change has allowed Mauricio Pochettino to revise his opinion, although to be honest every manager not in Europe would love to be in the Europa League, as would their fans. It's easy to dismiss something when you have little chance of getting into it. Tottenham will of course have told him of the club requirements, win every game.
When you are at a club like Tottenham that is the expectation and that is a pressure, not only players have to handle, but the manager too. Juggling a squad will be a new experience for the Argentine but the expectation is something he has taken on board.
“Tottenham, in every competition that we enter, we need to think, ‘We win the competition’. We need this mentality and if we play the Europa League, we need to play to win.”
The game offers an opportunity to play some of the World Cup players who haven't figured in any pre-season games and understand the pressing style in a game situation. Jan Vertonghen has already told the Haringey Independent he hopes to play.
"I have had a couple of good sessions the past couple of weeks together with the other World Cup guys and I hope to be ready for Thursday.
“It is the manager’s choice, of course, but I hope I can play and that I am allowed to play.”
His fellow World Cup performers earlier this summer will also be hoping to play ahead of the next round of international fixtures at the beginning of September, Nacer Chadli and Mousa Dembele. Paulinho will also need some game time but he has been dropped by Brazil for their two upcoming games in America.