Scott Parker said yesterday that Tottenham will have "failed" if they do not qualify for next season's Champions League. He also suggested that Spurs' manager, Harry Redknapp, might have lost some faith in the players.
Tottenham's collapsing form, which has seen them lose a 10-point lead over Arsenal, culminated on Sunday night with a 5-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea. Now they have just fourth place left to play for, and Parker said that defeat in that battle would be unacceptable.
"It's clear for everyone to see," Parker said. "If we don't end up fourth this year we will have failed as a squad, really. Because we've had a fantastic ride this year and we've dipped, it's clearly obvious, we need to bounce back and we need to dig in."
Tottenham's drop over the last seven weeks has been dramatic. When they were 2-0 up at the Emirates Stadium on 26 February they were set to go 13 points ahead of their north London rivals. Now they have slipped behind, having won one of eight games, and Parker suggested that Redknapp, below, might have lost confidence in the players.
"People are doubting us," Parker said, "whether that is our own fans, even our own manager probably at this present moment in time is doubting us a little bit. We need to stand up and be counted, and show the fans, and show him probably that we're going to try and end up fourth."
Parker said he was not sure what had happened to his team. "I think for everybody that's the million-dollar question, really. I suppose all I can say, and it sounds clichéd, is that we have five games left and we need to dust ourselves off and go and try and win the next five, or at least get in the top four."
Tottenham's decline has coincided with Fabio Capello's resignation as England manager and talk that Redknapp might replace him. Parker denied that the players had been unsettled.
"Speaking personally, I've not thought about it really," he said. "I think it's probably a combination of a few things: a dip in form, a bit of tiredness."
The disappointment of such a bad semi-final defeat might push Spurs on. Parker said: "I think something like that might kick us on if we try and get that siege mentality. We need to try and stay positive and grind out the rest of the season and get fourth."