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Should Spurs sack off the Europa League? FFT asks the ex-pros

Erik Thorstvedt (Yes)

Erik Thorstvedt

Position: Goalkeeper

Apps: 218 (0 goals)

Years at the club: 1989-1996

Trophies at the club: FA Cup, 1990/91

"From a personal perspective, I hope they don't as I'm travelling to Florence to watch them this evening! I think it would be entirely understandable, though, because when you're in with a shot of the title I think you have to do everything you can to give yourself a chance.

"We didn't really come close to winning the league during my time at the club and it’s so long [since Spurs did win it]. When was the last time, 1961? I mean, come on, that's a long, long time ago - hardly anyone at White Hart Lane today could claim to have been there back then.

"Spurs, of course, have a proud tradition in Europe too, but given a choice between both there's no doubt which the fans and the players would choose. You’d think that - barring a complete collapse in league form - a place in the Champions League is almost guaranteed, so it's now really up to the manager and the players to show that they can maintain their form when it really matters, when the pressure’s really on.

"These are fit boys, the manager has seen to that, but they have enjoyed a period of generally only playing once a week since the first stage of the Europa League ended. That’s allowed the players to stay fresh and maintain their fitness; now they're about to find out if they can do it playing twice a week, which is doubly hard. Playing Thursday and Sunday doesn't do the players any favours either, as others have proved in the past.

"Spurs’ squad is strong and there aren’t too many older guys in there, but they need key players like Harry Kane to stay fit. If he, in particular, gets injured, there’s no real replacement for him.

"Leicester don't have the FA Cup or Europe to concern them, so they can just keep focusing on the title. That's not the case for Spurs. Knocking the Europa League on the head would give them one less thing to worry about."

Ramon Vega (No)

Ramon Vega

Position: Defender

Apps: 84 (8 goals)

Years at the club: 1996-2001

Trophies at the club: League Cup, 1998/99

"When seasons like this come around you need to enjoy them and, as a player, make the absolute most of them. Spurs are in this position because they’ve been winning match after match – and when that happens you just want to play as much as you can. That’s why I think the Europa League is still important, not just to them but for English football.

"There has been a certain amount of arrogance from English clubs to Europe in recent seasons, particularly in the Europa League but also in the Champions League. That’s why we’re seen English clubs tripping up to sides like Basel – a side that the likes of Chelsea thought they just had to turn up against to win.

"It’s about time the Premier League punched its weight in Europe, if only to ensure that the country retains its fourth Champions League place - if that goes, it could have a massive impact on football in this country.

"Spurs have taken the Europa League pretty seriously this season and I don’t see any reason that should change now. Football is all about confidence and this Spurs side is playing with a huge amount of it. You can see that in the way they played against Manchester City. In years gone by, getting pegged back away from home at the Etihad would have been the end for Spurs: they would’ve gone on to draw the game or maybe even lose it. At the moment, though, they’ve got an amazing amount of self-belief – and so have the fans.

"Players like Harry Kane are in great form and when that happens you want to play and the games can’t come quick enough. I remember being part of a Spurs side that won the League Cup, which at the time was their first trophy in the long time. The atmosphere around the club was just incredible. Fans were coming out of the woodwork like London rats… in a good way! When Spurs win, north London is buzzing. Well, at least half of it is."

Alan Mullery (No)

Alan Mullery

Position: Midfielder

Apps: 312 (26 goals)

Years at the club: 1964-1972

Trophies at the club: FA Cup, 1966/67; League Cup 1970/71; UEFA Cup 1971/72

"Winning breeds a lot of confidence and if you start thinking about saving people because we’re going to win the league, well, there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen. There’s a fair chance of picking up something in the FA Cup and in the Europa League and, as a player, you just have to try and take everything that comes along.

"When you’re playing in a season like this you want to play every minute of every game. In fact, if you’re left out it can disrupt your form and ruin your rhythm. When we won the UEFA Cup in 1971/72, we only used 16 players in 15 matches. I think I played over 70 games that season with Spurs and England. I can’t remember being substituted either.

"Yes, the games came along very quickly now, but we played 42 league matches back then too. These boys are athletes now. I’m not sure what you would have called us in our day but they’re equipped to challenge for honours in more than one competition, that’s for sure.

"Mauricio Pochettino is a shrewd man and he knows that European success will go down very well on his CV. Footballers and managers and clubs, especially at this level, want to win something – whichever tournament they’re in they should be targeting silverware.  

"Leicester have been sensational this season, absolutely brilliant, and they deserve to be top of the table, no doubt about that. Spurs, though, deserve to be up there too because they’ve played some great stuff. It’s so long since the club won the league – and don’t forget they won two trophies that season [1960/61] – and those fans deserve success."

"At the moment they’ll be enjoying being ahead of Arsenal and if that’s the case at the end of the season then they could be champions. The Europa League would be the icing on the cake." 

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