Champions League qualification is no 'golden ticket', says Ange Postecoglou: 'I'm here to win things'

Ange Postecoglou says qualifying for the Champions League would not be a "Willy Wonka golden ticket" to accelerate Tottenham's progress and insists he will never aim for anything but "being the best".

Postecoglou suggested the examples of Manchester United and Newcastle, who have both slipped down the table since finishing in the top-four last season, illustrate that Champions League football does not always lead to progress.

Spurs face Aston Villa on Sunday in what is potentially a six-pointer in the battle for fourth place - although fifth could also be good enough for a Champions League place next season.

Postecoglou dismissed the suggestion that qualifying for Europe's top club competition next season was important to his Spurs project.

"It’s not, actually," he said. "What’s more important is that come the end of this year, we’ve got a team that’s going to challenge the following year and keep growing.

"Right now, the most important thing is us, our identity and our football, because… mate, it’s not a Willy Wonka golden ticket, you know?

Newcastle made this year’s Champions League but have dropped off since (AFP via Getty Images)
Newcastle made this year’s Champions League but have dropped off since (AFP via Getty Images)

"It just gets you a year in the Champions League. But if you don’t build on that or grow from that, it is meaningless - I think, anyway.

"Because we’re not in it for participation. We’re in it to win things. Yes, if we make Champions League this year it means we’ve progressed from last year.

"But has our football progressed? Are we a better team? Are we a stronger team? Are we going to improve in the summer to make sure that next year we are going to be even better?

"That’s much more important to me. My target this year has always been to create a team that I hope will lay strong foundations for moving forward being a team that can win things.

"That’s where it begins and ends. Logically, if we’ve improved and made the Champions League, it means we’ve had a decent year. But that isn’t going to give me any comfort if we’re not playing the football that I want to play and we haven’t improved in the off-season to make sure we’re ready for the next step."

United and Newcastle appear unlikely to return to the Champions League next season, with the former currently six points behind Spurs and the Magpies 10 points adrift, both having played a game more.

Spurs are also a good example of Postecoglou's point after finishing fourth under Antonio Conte in 2021-22 but slipping to eighth last season following a wholly forgettable Champions League campaign.

Postecoglou continued: "There are a couple of teams who got into the Champions League this year from last year, had a good season.

"Does that guarantee anything the following season? No. I’ve said all along, I’m in no desperation to get something just for comfort or insurance.

"I’m here to create a team that wins things. For me, it defies logic – I’m just not built that way – to aim for anything other than the top.

"Now, it doesn’t mean you are always going to get there but I’m not going to settle for anything other than that. If I fall short, well that’s on me, OK?

“If that’s your goal and thinking it’s a golden ticket to endless riches, that is not the case.”

Ange Postecoglou on targeting the top four

"But I’m not going to sit here and try and create a scenario where we’re happy with anything other than being the best. That’s just the way I think. I don't see the sense in trying to aim for something other than number one, what's the point? I don't see the point."

Asked if he agreed with the premise that Spurs would develop more quickly as a Champions League club, Postecoglou: "No, no I don’t. Your development is your development. If you keep getting stronger as a team, those kind of things don’t even come into the equation.

"You should be there all the time. But if that’s your goal and thinking that is some golden ticket to some endless riches, it is not the case. There’s plenty of evidence even this year, you can see that’s not the case."

Meanwhile, Postecoglou - who is set to welcome back Pedro Porro against Villa - says supporters have every right to protest about the club's decision to increase ticket prices and strip back concessions for seniors.

Spurs announced this week a six per cent hike in all season tickets from next season and said it would end all new senior concessions from 2025-26. Individual fans and a number of supporter groups have reacted with anger and dismay at the decisions, and Postecoglou says he will not dictate to them how to feel.

"I don't think it is my place to try and articulate a position because other people are in charge of these areas," Postecoglou said.

"I've said many times I am the spokesperson for the football aspect of this club and I would hate it if somebody [from that side of the club] came out here one day and tried to explain my tactics or my team selection. I am not going to do the same.

"Also supporters are the lifeblood of any football club and I am not going to try to dictate how they feel. They have a voice, they have a strong voice and avenues to express their opinions. I will always abide by that and accept that. Even if sometimes as a manager I have certainly had it when it is against you, but you have to accept they have a very strong voice and they are allowed to express that.

"My role is to hopefully produce a team that gives them hope and belief and that's where my role begins and ends.

"I know how much football fans are invested in their clubs and I'm not going to sit here and tell them 'you know what, put aside your feelings, or if you feel strongly about something, just for the good of the team'. No, if you feel strongly about something you feel strongly about something, they're allowed to do that.

"My role is to produce a football team that gives them hope and belief and something to smile about at the end of the week."