Champions League takes club to a new level

Trevor Steven
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TOTTENHAM spent a total of 193 days of the season occupying a top-four place, compared to Manchester City’s 73. That is proof in itself that the right team are going on to represent us in Europe’s premier competition next season.

With competition tougher than ever before, Spurs thoroughly deserve their moment of glory. Beating the likes of Liverpool, City and Aston Villa is a magnificent achievement and is just reward for a set of fans who have been made to wait a long time for a patient rebuilding process to kick in.

Undoubtedly, the catalyst for their success is Harry Redknapp. Yes, he’s spent a lot of money, but he’s spent it well and he seems to have the knack of pulling a group of players together and making a team. Spurs play more consistently as a team than Manchester City do and that is vital in Champions League football.

While players and fans celebrate, Harry and his backroom staff will be aware that this is just the beginning. The new stadium will need to get up and running as White Hart Lane is too small for where the club want to go, while the association of Champions League football suddenly ups and ante and propels the club into a new stratosphere.

Harry will also be aware his side face a potentially tricky preliminary round very early in the season which can make or break their entire season. Arsenal were picked against Celtic last year – nothing is easy.

Indeed, Spurs can consider themselves unlucky that rivals Arsenal are hosting Fulham on Sunday, or they could have made a serious charge for third. I’ve not been impressed at all with Arsenal in recent weeks but few will expect them to lose to a Fulham side whose mind will be on next Wednesday’s Europa League final with Atletico Madrid.

While Spurs can look onwards and upwards, it’s a rude awakening for the mega-rich owners of Manchester City, who are beginning to realise that success has to be worked at. City are still a team of talented individuals – a sign that they are not quite ready yet to break into the European elite – but that will come in time.

I hope that Roberto Mancini is given another crack because I think he has done a fantastic job in settling into English football mid-season and motivating this team. They are not far away, but Mancini, or whoever is in charge at Eastlands next season, knows that one more season of failure will not be tolerated.

Heurelho Gomes – At PSV you could see what a terrific keeper he was, but he took time to adapt to England. For the last six to nine months, however, he has been a class act.

Ledley King – Despite injury problems, he’s been a rock at the back. For me, he has to go the World Cup as he’s in top form and there is enough time in between games for it not to affect him.

Luka Modric – Shielded by Huddlestone and Palacios, the little man is brave enough to play from midfield and Spurs thrive on his invention. He’s behind most of their best moves and always a threat.