Early Doors

Spurs fans: Fourth place or FA Cup?

Early Doors

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Wednesday was certainly a good day to be a Tottenham fan. Not only did Spurs put a poor first-half display behind them to come back and beat Fulham 3-1 in their FA Cup quarter-final replay, but their main rivals for securing the fourth and final Champions League spot all stumbled.

Manchester City's 2-0 defeat to Everton - their first home defeat of the season - and Aston Villa's 1-1 draw with Sunderland leave Spurs two points clear of the pack with their fate in their own hands. For those who remember the climax of the 2005-06 season, that's a dangerous place for them to be.

On that occasion, Martin Jol had kept Spurs in fourth place as the business end of the season approached. However, after Arsenal had scraped a 1-1 draw with them, they leapt above Spurs on the final day thanks to a win over Wigan in the last ever match at Highbury, while their neighbours lost to West Ham.

Whether that capitulation was down to a genuine stomach bug sweeping through the squad, Arsene Wenger spiking the lasagne or just a good old-fashioned bottle job, the end of that season further augmented the inferiority complex among Spurs fans, who have become almost institutionalised by their second string status since the grip of the big four tightened.

Of all the hundreds of clubs to grace the Football League over the years, Spurs are undoubtedly one of the most successful ever. But, in these modern times, when we're led to believe that everything except the league or the European Cup is little more than a consolation prize, it's been a tough time for the White Hart Lane faithful.

For the moment, things look on the up for them though, and for the first time in this 'race for fourth' they are the bookies' favourites to finish there.

Still, neither is yet guaranteed by any means, and it's probably a fair bet to say that a season ending with either one achievement or the other would ultimately be satisfactory.

So the question is, Spurs fans: if you had to choose between finishing fourth or winning the FA Cup, which would it be?

Right now, they are on the threshold of appearing on the biggest club stage of them all, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Barcelona, Inter and Rangers.

Regularly appearing in the Champions League is the only way Spurs can hope to catch up and perhaps one day usurp Arsenal. Their haul of three European trophies to Arsenal's two will not hold out forever.

Leeds and Newcastle have both shown in recent years that it is possible for clubs with less pedigree in the competition to compete and achieve some historic results. Mind you, look where it got them.

It could even end in tears before the group stages, as Everton found out in 2005 when a poor refereeing decision saw them lose their qualifier to Villarreal. Then it's just another season of continental mediocrity, with the trophy cabinet no fuller than it was before. And football's all about winning trophies, right?

That would not be the case if they brought the Cup back to N17 for the first time in 19 years. A win at Wembley in May would enhance the club's glorious cup tradition and end the domestic season with the players brandishing medals. The sight of Heurelho Gomes skipping round the Wembley turf with the trophy's lid on his head could also mean Spurs picking up two trophies during Arsenal's current barren spell.

Of course, they would not only need to get past either Chelsea or Villa in the final, but Harry Redknapp's old club Portsmouth stand in their way first. Since reaching the semis after going into administration, Pompey have been waiting for this match and this match only for a month.

Mind you, if FA Cup glory is to be the success that Spurs take home from this season, it's perhaps best to forget that it was Pompey who lifted the trophy less than two years ago.

So, it was only to be Glory Tottenham Hotspur (singular), which would it be?  

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Next time I might just let the ball run through. I caught it because I was making a substitution, I would have thought it would actually have helped him. I was very surprised, I didn't know what I had done wrong. Maybe I held on to the ball a second or two longer than I should have done but I was trying to make a substitution. But if I had let the ball go, let it run down the touchline - I actually speeded it up. I wasn't the one waving my hand for bookings. I shouldn't have been sent off, simple as." - David Moyes's bemused reaction to the touchline fracas between him and Roberto Mancini towards the end of Everton's win at Eastlands. Both men were sent to the stands following the injury-time fracas.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I have got to consider many factors. Money is not the only issue. The difference between the clubs is no longer so big. The decision will therefore not be made with my bank account, but in my head. It has to be not only good for me, but also for my wife and children. Wahiba is certainly a southern woman and she needs the sun." - Franck Ribery reveals that, when choosing between Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, there are some things that even Roman Abramovich's chequebook cannot provide.

COMING UP: That's it for the week as far as domestic fun goes, but there is still live commentary of the action in Italy and Spain to come this evening. Napoli v Juventus brings us Cannavaro v Cannavaro in Serie A at 19:45, while in La Liga at 19:00 there's a Madrid derby in the form of Getafe v Real Madrid at 19:00 followed by Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao at 21:00. Follow live commentary of them all, and have a flutter if you fancy at Eurosport Bet.

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