The sense of Champions League or bust doesn’t just seem to be a sentiment held by the manager at Tottenham. Both Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris have hinted in recent weeks that failure to achieve that coveted fourth place could prompt them both to reconsider their futures at the club.
More upheaval is possibly the last thing Spurs want this summer if they genuinely have designs on Premier League success next season. Therefore it will be music to Spurs fans ears to hear that midfield maestro Christian Eriksen has today come out in a show of loyalty to the club that saw so much potential in him last summer. Speaking to the Mail he confirmed that he was in it for the long haul in the North London:
“I don’t know how other guys are thinking, but I’m happy where I am, and hopefully we’ll get to the Champions League anyway,” he said.
“I think it is important for the club, and the calibre of player that could come, or stay. I think everybody wants to go to the Champions League. I’ve tried it before at Ajax, and you see everything is bigger, the atmosphere, the TV rights, the people watching. The Europa League is great, but the Champions League is what everybody wants, it’s the best place to play.”
Eriksen is clearly saying all the right things, but whether he means any of it we will surely find out during the run in and in the summer itself. For Spurs, keeping hold of the diminutive Dane is of the upmost importance. The prodigious youngster is the man to build this Spurs side around for years to come; with his technical abilities and creativity he could yet be the man to fill the gaping void left by Luka Modric.
Some of Spurs’ recent signings have verged on the luxury, unnecessary but aesthetically pleasing acquisitions that will thrill with their brief moments of quality. For me the likes of Chadli, Lamela and Paulinho fit into this category; they aren’t the lifeblood of the current side and I would expect Spurs to survive without them.
Keeping hold of Eriksen is different; successful Spurs sides of the past have been founded upon their creative force from the late great John White to the modern day Luka Modric, Spurs fans appreciate their importance. For me Eriksen sits alongside both Vertonghen and Lloris as fundamental components of the so-called ‘project’ at Spurs.
So for the Dane to come out and say all these things is clearly a huge boost regardless of how much you want to read into it. Eriksen was keen to stress the importance of a change of manager, something that has given him a second lease of life at the club:
“Recently I’ve been really satisfied with how it’s gone,” he said.
“I think he (Sherwood) is more English in his style than Villas-Boas of course, you can see that in the way we play. But for me it’s been good, for me personally I’ve had the chance to play, so of course it’s been great.”
“A win would show everyone that we are top-four contenders, it would show we are still in the race, that’s what we want. If we want to get to the top four we have to win these games, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”
Even at the age of just 22 it is important to recognise just how crucial Eriksen is. Of course he needs careful managing, but he also needs the stage to showcase his abilities week in week out. Without him in the side Spurs look toothless and unimaginative, with him then they are definitely a side to strike fear into any opposition.
5th place could spell the end for Tim Sherwood at Spurs; it could also prompt the exits of a number of others. The key for Spurs though is that whatever happens doesn’t derail the overall trajectory as a whole.
It is easy to be cynical about Eriksen’s comments, but for me the show of passion is exactly what Spurs fans need at the moment.