Tottenham’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Crystal Palace should not entirely be seen as a blessing in disguise.
The Lilywhites were frustrated as they went down 1-0 to Alan Pardew’s men, but the result was immediately hailed by some fans as beneficial to their season.
Admittedly, Tottenham cannot feasibly win the treble, and now have one less competition to think about as they head into fixture pile-up. Games like the Palace one are inevitable, but Spurs should not be relieved at their exit, as it could be a warning sign going into the business end of the season.
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Avoiding a replay was important, but ultimately in football, winning breeds winning. Mauricio Pochettino has done his utmost to create a ‘winning mentality’, but that was not evident in the spoutings of those around the club, claiming that their FA Cup exit should be celebrated.
Eyes on the title
The obvious bonus is that Spurs can now place even more emphasis on the title race. However, with a difficult run-in ahead of them, even that is in danger of fizzling out. Amidst the fans’ heightened expectations, that means a scenario whereby Spurs are left with no silverware in May, would now be a huge disappointment.
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Tottenham are the only team besides Manchester United to have won trophies in each of the past six decades, but time is running out to make it seven in a row.
FA Cup losing its value
The club is clearly torn on the competition’s value. Financially, the Premier League is far more rewarding. However, Spurs have always had a special affiliation with the FA Cup, and with Palace drawn away to Reading in the quarter-finals, Pochettino could very feasibly have been looking at a glorious semi-final trip to Wembley, had it been his side that made it through.
There is an argument, nonetheless, that it is the semi-finals at Wembley and the constant changes in kick-off times that has devalued the FA Cup.
The Europa League, on the other hand, is tremendously difficult to win, not least because of the number of games between now and the final. As Spurs beat Fiorentina 4-1 on aggregate they now face a tough tie against Borussia Dortmund in the last 16.
Europe is often more important for Spurs because a Europa League win offers a spot in the Champions League, but that could be taken for granted thanks to their league position, thus proving the more important a first FA Cup in 25 years could have been.
Tottenham are not alone in their changing perception of the FA Cup, and should not necessarily be criticised for their stance. Pochtettino did not go as far as Man City’s Manuel Pellegrini, who fielded five uncapped teenagers and paid the price 5-1 at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.
Having won the FA Cup eight times, it is a shame to see Spurs content with a quarter-final exit. Though watching Dele Alli’s first-half shot rebound off both posts, they must have had a hunch it was not going to be their day. But Pochettino must make sure that this defeat does not translate into Spurs’ wider season.
What a difference a week makes. Spurs’ Valentines Day victory at Manchester City is still fresh in the memory, but the feeling around the club is capable of changing so dramatically, so quickly, and that is what Spurs must guard against.
Can Tottenham move on from their FA Cup defeat and remain focused for the rest of the season? Give us your opinion in the comment box below!