Sackings, cup wins & relegation: Why Spurs will want to avoid 'doing a Zaragoza'

Tottenham fans will have been left feeling rather green in the gills after their club's Champions League spot was pilfered by London rivals Chelsea on Saturday evening, but this isn't the first time a club finishing in a qualifying position has missed out.

Real Zaragoza finished the 1999/00 Primera Liga season in fourth place, only to lose their spot in the following season's Champions League when Real Madrid - who had finished fifth - beat Valencia in the final of that year's competition.

With the prize of a place in the most prestigious competition in club football taken away from them, things soon started to unravel.

Manager José Francisco Rojo had his head turned by the chance to return to his hometown club, Athletic Bilbao. Juan Manuel Lillo replaced him in the hot seat, but top scorer, spitting-Serb Savo Milosevic, was soon also off to Parma.

Savo upped and left when Zaragoza missed out on the Champions League

Zaragoza then fell at the first hurdle in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup. Having led Wisla Krakow 4-1 after the first leg, the Spanish side took an early lead in Poland to extend the aggregate score to 5-1. But four goals in ten second half minutes levelled the tie, and the Polish outfit eventually won on penalties.

That result played a part in the speedy sacking of manager Lillo after only three months at the club, with Luis Costa arriving as his replacement - his fourth of five spells in charge at La Romareda. But that didn't lead to any kind of upturn in fortunes in la Liga, with los Blanquillos eventually finishing the season in 17th - just one place and point above the drop zone.

There was some good news, at least, in the form of a Copa del Rey victory which secured a return to the UEFA Cup in 2001/02, though they failed to make much of a splash then either.

Rojo returned after just a year in Bilbao, but the club's troubles came to a head - or more accurately, a bottom - when the Aragonese side were relegated from the top flight after finishing the season at the foot of the table (apologies for any anatomical confusion).

Although they made an immediate return, the club have only managed one top half finish in their eight top flight seasons since, having also spent 2008/09 in la Segunda.

The fact Spurs will enter the Europa League at the group stage means they will be in European competition until at least December – so no chance of an exit as early as Zaragoza's, while it also seems they have already avoided losing their manager to his ‘dream job’. But holding on to their star names may prove a little tougher, not least as Gareth Bale has been pretty much gone from the neck up since mid-February.

Still, there's that cup win to look forward to. Perhaps.