Dreams were soon becoming murmurs of the Dam. Can we honestly forgive ourselves for even daring to think, daring to believe? I felt an Utter fool for doing so. Allowing myself to be sucked in to the belief that Spurs could make a final in Amsterdam. It would've been too perfect. No Spurs train ever arrives at the end of the line as planned. We encounter far too many signal failures, breakdowns and engineering works in our season and we're left reflecting on how we'll cope as fans, how Spurs will cope and whether we can snatch at any positives that fight their way out of the abysmal anticlimax that is the exit of the Europa League quarter finals.
We worked hard for it. The players left blood in their tracks. I genuinely couldn't fault their effort in a competition traditionally snubbed and demeaned by the English; our own past proving little to shy away from this. We've given so much in an intensely demanding season. Our lack of depth almost predictably epitomising perfectly why the season proved as demanding as it has done. Adebayor's penalty didn't knock us out. The complacency in the first leg did, but we always knew we'd be limping through this competition because of a lack of investment in depth in the summer and January. I do trust Levy and hope he'll give AVB the backing that'll match his initial faith in appointing the young Portuguese coach.
I did little to hide my disappointment at Friedel starting ahead of Lloris. Friedel undoubtly gave us a great year last season but the dynamic of our side has changed. Lloris' importance in the Spurs side is second to none. It does force the subconscious feeling of 'what if'. I struggle to find any real benefit of starting the American ahead of the French 'keeper. The Europa League now enters its de-valuing stage. The remaining teams once playing under the Champions League lights now find themselves in Europe's second tier competition. Perspective. Chelsea's arguably initial goals of a good run in Europe and contending the Premier League title now fall to accept a top 4 finish and a Europa League final.
I don't say this accepting second best. I say this as I see it. We've done well to get to the quarter finals of the Europa League and are still heavily involved in the fight for fourth - as were our initial plans. I've been to three Europa league away's this year and I can't express my admiration for the competition so much more-so now. It's an exciting competition that reaps the passion of the fans all across Europe. They love it, and so should we. It's secondary status to the Champions League gives it the edge for me in almost taking away the commercial propaganda that invites half-arsed fans to flick on the TV or buy up space in a ground that could be filled by those that truly wish to sing for the shirt.
Don't have me mistaken, the Champions League is fantastic in terms of growing the club and continuing this exponentially is key. But, from a fan point of view, I've loved every minute and every aspect of following us in the Europa League. It's granted me more opportunity in which to sing my heart out for the only club I'll ever love. Winning games breeds confidence. A minority saw the Europa League as an opportunity cost to a top 4 place. There's little point playing in a competition if you don't want to go out and win the thing. Nothing beats lifting a European trophy, regardless of its' status.
As has been mentioned before, we must return to find our collective. Slating certain individuals does nothing to help the side progress. I don't knock fans having their own negative opinion, I just call for that particular negative opinion to be bottled away from White Hart Lane. Breathing positivism lifts the tension weighing down the players each week. Believe it or not, but we do make a difference at games. We've only a handful of games left in which to play. We're once again underdogs for top flight European competition. Regardless of how other teams perform, let's show both on and off the pitch how much we want that place in the sacred top 4.
Ben - Follow me on Twitter here.
Don't forget to subscribe below! Simply enter your e-mail address. Thanks.