Tottenham Top Four hopes in tatters after Leeds United defeat- What next for Spurs?

LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Tottenham Hotspur looks dejected after the Premier League match between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road on May 08, 2021 in Leeds, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Oli Scarff - Pool/Getty Images)

It was a make or break game in a very disappointing season for Tottenham Hotspur, in which the Lilywhites fell to defeat dealing a killer blow to their top four hopes.

Leeds United played to a good game plan, as ever, marshalled by Marco Bielsa. Meanwhile Tottenham faltered under the wing of Ryan Mason despite some good chances.

But despite the questionable offside decision given against Tottenham, Leeds were still 2-1 up in the second half and inevitably added a third as Spurs began to throw more resources forward.

As the third goal went in, you would have heard a collective gasp around the away section of the stadium if there were any fans allowed in to watch on.

In a season where Spurs were promised at least a Carabao Cup under Jose Mourinho, the last thing to fight for was a top four spot and qualification for the Champions League.

Getting maximum points in the last handful of games was paramount to Tottenham having a chance at closing the gap between Chelsea, Leicester City and West Ham United.

The Champions League dream is all but over now for Spurs.

Three matches remain, including a vital clash against Leicester. But Spurs now lag seven points behind the Foxes, needing their opponents to make a real hash of their remaining fixtures.

A more realistic hope is that Spurs still get some kind of European football in the form of the Europa League. A new fall-back is the Europa Conference League which would allow the sixth or seventh place club to qualify for Europe.

Crashing out of the Europa League in March was another key flashpoint in the downfall of Mourinho and another horrible moment in this worsening season.

But the pain this caused shows that the Europa League is still a competition worth fighting for, especially as Spurs’ 13 year wait for trophies drags on. Qualifying for the Europa League will not be seen as an achievement this season, but it would at least give Spurs a place in Europe.

The issue comes with squad depth and players getting exhausted with the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg playing over 4000 minutes over more appearances (50) than any other Spurs player.

Some fans argue that Spurs ought to stay out of Europe and prioritise domestic competitions. It would be ludicrous to expect the current squad to compete for the league title, though. The current core of the squad has already tried this and failed, with some of those components beginning to decay. Could winning a League Cup justify missing out on Europe altogether?

Not really.

Tottenham are once again a team in transition. A horrible phrase of beginning a new cycle, with new managers and ideas coming in and personnel to move around in the summer. After building for so long until Pochettino and coming so close to a title, it is frustrating to have to be smashing the reset button. But, as the ex-Spurs manager hinted at in a press conference, Tottenham will inevitability have to go through a ‘painful rebuild’.

For now, three matches remain to save some kind of glory and decide which second rate tier of European football Spurs can strive to win next season.

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