LONDON: Bayern Munich’s defeat by Chelsea on Saturday was felt painfully in part of north London: Tottenham had finished fourth in the Premier League but will enter the Europa League and not the Champions League because Chelsea – having finished sixth – snatched their hard-earned place in the sun.
That will prove costly in terms of cash and could also harm Spurs’ prospects of keeping at least two of their best players in Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.
Playmaker Modric has been a target for Chelsea and Real Madrid in the past and was persuaded only reluctantly last summer to stay one more year at White Hart Lane. Bale, the flying left wingback who scored a Champions League hat-trick against Inter in Milan in 2010, has been linked with Barcelona who need a replacement for Eric Abidal.
Modric has said he will think about his next career step only after playing for Croatia at Euro 2012 which means a long, worrying wait for manager Harry Redknapp who was in Munich to see nephew Frank Lampard deny him a return among Europe’s elite.
Redknapp will also have to rebuild his strike force. Jermain Defoe, impatient at being in and out of the team, wants to move and Emmanuel Adebayor has returned to Manchester City after his highly effective one-season loan. Whether Rafael Van der Vaart will accept another season out of the Champions League is another issue.
Spurs have started thinking ahead. Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen is one target but they will have competition from Arsenal particularly now that they are out of the Champions League while the Gunners are in it.
However the fact that Redknapp cannot use the lure of Champions League football means that fans may not see similar deadline-day transfer captures such as Van der Vaart in 2010 and Scott Parker last year.
Tottenham had it in their own hands to finish third and spare themselves the summer trauma. But their form dipped amid speculation early in the new year that Redknapp might be swept away by the Football Association to manage England after Fabio Capello’s sudden exit.
Redknapp has refuted that. After Spurs wound up their season with a home win over Fulham he said: “Every team have ups and down over the course of a campaign and ours happened at a time when we also had a few injuries so maybe we took a little longer to come out it than we might have.
“But we have to look at the positives. To finish fourth in the Premier League is an achievement 16 other teams would have loved.”
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