After a pretty disappointing yet good enough to qualify group stage campaign from Tottenham in the Europa League, Andre Villas-Boas decided it’s time to start mending some old wounds by attacking Chelsea and other Champions League teams joining the competition after the group stage.
Teams that finish in the third place of their groups in the Champions League group stage do not get an end to their European season. They get a demotion, a bonus or a pain in the a$$, depends on your outlook, and join the round of 32 in the Europa League, with 8 teams coming from the better competition, joining the 24 teams that qualified from the 12 groups in what used to be known as the UEFA Cup.
After beating Panathinaikos, which put Tottenham in second place behind Lazio in their group, good enough to qualify for the next stage, Villas-Boas immediately cleared time to talk about the prospect of meeting Chelsea in Europe, and how he thinks it’s unfair that UCL teams get to drop in on the party uninvited and undeserved.
I think it’s extremely unfair. It would be much fairer if the clubs came into the Europa League when they are knocked out of the last 16 of the Champions League. You can’t give a bonus to teams who have failed, and in the situation as it stands, teams fail in the Champions League and are promoted to the Europa League, which, in my opinion, is a massive bonus. I’ve not made this up today. I have said this in Uefa meetings before. It’s up to them to decide but I think it’s not fair.
Villas-Boas has a point, but a lot of the teams that do “fall” into the Europa League aren’t exactly pleased about it, especially teams from the top leagues like England. We saw how “seriously” Manchester United and Manchester City took the competition after both failed to make it into the Champions League knockout stage last season. Players in Chelsea, including their manager, have already spoken about the disappointment of having to play in the Europa League. For clubs who see themselves as among the biggest in Europe, it feels like a stain on their honor.
Chelsea will be part of six clubs with a Champions League (or European Cup) trophy in their cabinet, along with the likes of Liverpool, Inter, Ajax and Benfica. If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for Chelsea. Villas-Boas is probably just disappointed that his chances of winning something with Spurs this season have been seriously diminished with the arrival of some very strong clubs.