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When does a Spurs fan cheer on the opposition? When the Europa League's at stake

by Jonathan Westwood
May 08, 2014 11:15 AM BST



Our third spineless capitulation of the season to West Ham United has surely sealed poor Tim Sherwood’s fate - though the writing appears to have been painted on the wall for him for some weeks.
As well as the question of next season’s manager, last weekend’s results leave the club and its fans with an interesting dilemma ahead of Sunday's final game of the season at home to Aston Villa.
Villa have nothing to play for - and would be forgiven for wanting to see the back of their season as much as we want to see the back of ours.
We seemingly have nothing to play for: fifth place is out of reach. And as long as we match Manchester United’s result in their final match at Southampton, we’ll finish sixth.
But there’s one set of results that could see us end the season in seventh place. If we lose to Villa and United beat the Saints, both clubs will finish with 66 points. But United’s goal difference (+21) is so much better than ours (+1), that they would be end the season in sixth place.
Why might we want us to drop a place? Because then we won’t have the pointless farce of the Europa League next season. The dubious distinction of 5,000-mile round trips for Thursday nights in eastern Europe would fall to United.
As well as saving the fans some money, this will arguably give Spurs the best chance of achieving respectability in the Premier League next season. While Brendan Rodgers and Luis Suarez deserve much of the credit, it can’t be mere coincidence that Liverpool have mounted a genuine title challenge this season because their squad hasn’t had to wade through the energy-sapping treacle of the Thursday-Sunday fixture sequence that comes with entry into the most pointless cup competition in Christendom.
By the time Sunday’s fixtures bring down the curtain, Liverpool will have played 15 fewer games (43) than Manchester City (58).
Like Liverpool, our squad is not blessed with abundant quality in depth.
Between 25 September (when they went out of the League Cup 3rd round) and 5 January (when they played Oldham in the FA Cup 3rd round), Liverpool had a string of 15 unbroken Premier League fixtures. During that same period, Manchester City had to squeeze in an additional 7 cup ties.
City have the squad to cope with that kind of schedule; Liverpool do not.
And neither do Spurs.
So, heretical as it may be, I’ll be half-hoping Villa buck the form book - just 1 win and 4 points from their last 8 games - on Sunday afternoon and that Ryan Giggs scores a hat-trick in his final appearance for Man United, leaving Spurs free to ‘concentrate on the league’ in 2014-15 season.