TOTTENHAM boss Andre Villas-Boas is proud to have run rivals Arsenal and Chelsea so close in the race for a top-four finish, but admits their record Premier League points haul of 72 may have to be surpassed again next season to deliver Champions League football to White Hart Lane.
Gareth Bale’s stunning last-minute winner saw Spurs surpass their previous best of 70 points.
Only twice since the Premier League began in 1992-93 has 72 points not been enough to attain a top-four finish and in one of those seasons, 1994-95, the division consisted of 22 teams rather than 20.
In fact, Spurs would have finished runners-up in 1996-97 and 2010-11 with that total, yet Villas-Boas feels 72 may not be enough again next season.
“This year is very unusual,” he said. “Achieving 72 points and not making it means next season, to compete at this level, we will probably have to make more than that.
“Next season we don’t need a lot to make us even better. Bearing in mind the experience the others have, they’ve fought for the Premier League title, we’ve given them a good run for the Champions League spots.”
Referee Andre Marriner was the subject of the home team’s frustration after failing to award obvious penalties, for a foul on Bale and handball by Carlos Cueller, in either half.
Sunderland – missing defender Phil Bardsley who was dropped for off-field indiscipline, a problem manager Paolo di Canio admits is rife within the squad – had midfielder David Vaughan sent off for a second bookable offence on 75 minutes.
And Spurs, who registered 19 efforts on target, finally made the breakthrough when Bale blasted in from 30 yards.
However, as news from St James’ Park filtered through celebration turned to commiseration.