Win Europa League or Bust for Tottenham Hotspur this Season

Jose Mourinho (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)
Jose Mourinho (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images) /

Not too long ago Tottenham were the favorites to win the Europa League. However, without having played a game in the competition since being drawn against Wolfsberger nearly two months ago, Spurs now find themselves at much longer odds to win the tournament. Even more troublesome for Tottenham is the fact that if Spurs hope to play in the Champions League next season, at this point it is Europa League or bust for making the top competition.

Tottenham Tumbling in the Predictions

Just short of two months ago, Tottenham were still the favorites to win the Europa League according to However, as Spurs fortunes have changed, so too have the prediction of Tottenham lifting the silverware at the end of the competition. Spurs have fallen from the most likely team to win the competition at a 19% chance to the ninth most likely team to win with a 6% chance of taking the final.

Three things stand out in the rankings for Tottenham

First, Spurs went from the most favored team to the last most likely of the Premier League clubs. All three other remaining Premier League clubs are now more likely to win the tournament according to with Manchester United, Leicester City, and Arsenal all more likely percentage wise and three of the top four most likely overall.

Second, at the time of the draw Tottenham were so highly favored, they were 99% likely to advance from the round of 32 to 16. While still heavily favored, Spurs are now only 89% likely to advance to the next round over Wolfsberger. It is not that Wolfsberger has been play well, sitting in sixth place just above the relegation round in the Austrian Bundesliga. Rather it is that Spurs have been playing that poorly overall that the percentages have gone done.

Third, is a little bit about the percentages. Previously, Spurs were at a 19% prediction to win the entire tournament, whereas they now only have a 12% chance of even making the final and then a 6% chance to win overall. The combined percentages there are still less than the nearly 1 in 5 chance Tottenham were being given to win the tournament back in December. Regardless, Spurs have to get it together because they must win Europa League.

Tottenham Must Win Europa League

We have written recently about the long odds Tottenham Hotspur have of reaching the top four in the Premier League. While the schedule does get a bit more manageable, the mountain is steep. Even if you think Spurs have a better than 12% chance of making top four – remember that includes the odds at third and fourth combined – the point gap is significant.

Even if Tottenham average 2 points per League match the rest of the way, they still only finish on 66 points, which will certainly not be enough to reach the Top Four. This leaves the only route to the Champions League as winning the Europa League. If  you think Spurs do not need Champions League, then you must not be a big fan of transfers, because that money is critical to the club. Fortunately, like him or not, Tottenham does have someone who has done this before.

José Mourinho Managed United to a Europa League Triumph in a similar circumstance

A few things stand out from the Manchester United team that won the Europa League in 2016-17 under José Mourinho. First was their finish in the League. United finished a distant sixth on 69 points, some six points behind 5th placed Arsenal and eight points in front of seventh placed Everton.

United, like Tottenham this season, were not really in the race for the title in the second half and were longshots to make top four. Liverpool finished fourth that season on 76 points, seven in front of United. Knowing the team was unlikely to make Champions League, clearly Europa League was the path taken.

Outside of that finish in the League is the fortune of the draws and the closeness of the affairs that stand out in reflection of José Mourinho and Manchester United’s run. After a comfortable two-legged win over Saint Etienne in the round of 32, United won each of the next three matches by just 1 goal, with a win and draw the result of each of the pair of matches.

Of course winning 1-0 has not exactly been Tottenham’s forte this season. It was not necessary the strength of United either, but drawing Rostov, RSC Anderlecht, and Celta de Vigo on the way to the final was some good fortune. By the end, versus Ajax, it was a young Ajax squad versus mighty Manchester United and José Mourinho and United won by two goals to nil.

For Tottenham, even if they are fortunate with the draw along the way, few teams have the same kind of fear of Spurs as they would Manchester United but then again it is all relative to the opponent. The point is, at this juncture, Tottenham and Daniel Levy are banking on José Mourinho and his experience trekking this exact route to an Europa League crown. Hopefully the team can follow, as it is likely the only route back to Champions League for Spurs.

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