Tottenham Hotspur still have a "massive chance" to salvage something from their crumbling season, according to manager Harry Redknapp, although their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League appear to be diminishing by the day.
Sunday's 5-1 hammering by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final did not have any impact on their battle with the Blues, and Newcastle United, for fourth place but it was another crushing blow for the North London club, whose have suffered a spectacular collapse in form.
While Tottenham still sit fourth with five games remaining, a position that would secure a playoff berth for the Champions League, the momentum that took them to the fringe of the title race in February has disappeared.
"It's a big disappointment for everyone, us, the fans and we're sorry how it's gone but we've got to start again," said Redknapp after a Wembley defeat which will be remembered for Chelsea's highly contentious second goal.
"We've still got a massive chance to finish fourth and we have to make sure we do it."
Since Redknapp walked free from a tax evasion trial on February 8 and straight to the top of the list as favourite to replace former England coach Fabio Capello, who quit on the same day, Tottenham have managed just two league wins.
A 10-point lead over Arsenal could become an eight-point deficit if their North London rivals best Wigan Athletic at home later on Monday while Newcastle are level on points in fifth and Chelsea just two adrift.
While on paper Tottenham may have the easier run-in of the three teams battling for fourth, their form has deserted them at the most crucial part of the season with the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Emmanuel Adebayor struggling to scale the heights of earlier in the campaign.
Redknapp is quick to rubbish suggestions that speculation surrounding the England job has disrupted Tottenham's season.
However, he admits that his side must quickly rediscover their spark if they are to have a chance of another campaign in the Champions League they lit up last season.
While Chelsea have Barcelona to occupy their thoughts in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday before they face Arsenal in a crucial Premier League match on Saturday, Tottenham now face another tricky London derby at Queens Park Rangers.
They have not won away in the league since December 27 and QPR will be no pushover as they battle to avoid relegation.
"We have to bounce back, it's a test of character now," Redknapp said. "I've got to find a team with the nerve, the willpower and the desire to get fourth spot. We have a very tough game against QPR now."
With Chelsea's eyes on cup distraction and Spurs in a slump, Newcastle could emerge as the surprise package and pip both the London clubs for fourth.
Five consecutive victories have seen Alan Pardew's side roar into contention and their next two games are at home to Stoke City and away to Wigan before a potentially key clash against Chelsea just three days before their FA Cup final against Liverpool.
With a Europa League place all but assured already, the Magpies will approach the finale full of optimism.
"I have never actually ruled it out. The press kept saying to me, 'Are you going to make the Champions League?', and I said we were just looking to win the next game," Pardew told Newcastle's website.
"To have this points total and not make Europe would be tough to take, so we have got to keep our eye on the ball, and we aren't giving up on anything."comments