Tottenham are refusing to give up hope on qualifying for the Uefa Cup despite blowing their two best chances of reaching the competition in the past month.
Speaking in the aftermath of Spurs' 4-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, the defender Ledley King believes they can put together a run of results that will see them finish fifth in the Premiership – starting with tonight's game, ironically, against Chelsea.
"We've definitely taken a big step in the right direction this season," the England Under-21 international said, "and I'm sure that will continue. Our aim for the season was to get into Europe and we are still aiming for that. You could only say that the season has been positive."
Spurs are still coming to terms with their traumatic FA Cup reverse, which came swiftly on the heels of defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the Worthington Cup final. Victory in Cardiff would have handed the north London side an immediate passport to European competition next season, but King is still convinced the side have made progress this year.
"The new management have come in and helped us all," he said. "They've got us passing the ball and playing great football. The new players have helped as well and it's only the first season. It's a long-term plan and it's all about building."
With Teddy Sheringham, Gustavo Poyet and Christian Ziege arriving last summer, White Hart Lane was filled with anticipation. Glenn Hoddle's side might yet deliver, but they would realistically have to win eight of their remaining 10 league matches – which include five London derbies – to erode a 10-point gap which exists between themselves and Leeds in fifth place.
King knows it will be tough turning round a season that promised so much but has gone flat recently, yet the 21-year-old centre-half insists the squad has the experience to turn things around. "I was gutted with the final and bitterly disappointed again against Chelsea," he admitted, "but we all know that's what football's about. Cup games are all about winning and losing and it's something we have to face.
"We can't dwell on it. We've got games around the corner. We've still 30 points to play for in the league and we want to get as many points as we can and continue pushing on."
That starts at Stamford Bridge tonight and, having beaten Chelsea for the first time in nearly 12 years in January, when Spurs triumphed 5-1 in the Worthington semi-finals, they at least know how to beat Claudio Ranieri's side
"We haven't had too long to dwell on Sunday. We've another game tomorrow and it's a chance to put things right," added King. "It's nice that we've got the chance to play them straight away. It gives us the chance to show what we can do."
Hoddle's only fresh injury concern is Darren Anderton, who is planning to go to Manchester while Bayern Munich are in England to see the sports injury specialist Hans Müller-Wohlfahrt. Anderton flew to Munich last Monday for a check on his hamstring problem prior to the FA Cup quarter-final.Reuse content