Ange Postecoglou says Champions League qualification not a ‘golden ticket’

Spurs are five points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa ahead of Sunday’s meeting.

George Sessions
Friday 08 March 2024 14:45 GMT
Ange Postecoglou takes Tottenham to fourth-placed Aston Villa on Sunday (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Ange Postecoglou takes Tottenham to fourth-placed Aston Villa on Sunday (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Ange Postecoglou has insisted Champions League qualification is not the equivalent of a Willy Wonka golden ticket and will be meaningless unless Tottenham can build on it this summer.

Spurs travel to Aston Villa on Sunday with both clubs vying for fourth spot, which will guarantee a place in Europe’s elite competition.

Fifth could also secure Champions League football, but Postecoglou – without naming them – cited Manchester United and Newcastle as examples of teams who have failed to kick on after finishing in the top four last season.

“There are a couple of teams who got into the Champions League this year from last year, had a good season. Does that guarantee anything the following season? No,” Postecoglou stated.

“What’s more important is that come the end of this year, we’ve got a team that’s going to challenge the following year and keep growing. Right now, the most important thing is us, our identity and our football.

“It’s not a Willy Wonka golden ticket, you know? It just gets you a year in the Champions League, but if you don’t build on that or grow from that, it is meaningless, I think anyway, because we’re not in it for participation, we’re in it to win things.

“Yes, if we make Champions League this year it means we’ve progressed from last year, but has our football progressed?

“Are we a better team? Are we a stronger team? Are we going to improve in the summer to make sure that next year we are going to be even better?

“That’s much more important to me. My target this year has always been to create a team that I hope will lay strong foundations for moving forward being a team that can win things. That’s where it begins and ends.

“Logically as you say, if we’ve improved and make Champions League, it means we’ve had a decent year. But that isn’t going to give me any comfort if we’re not playing the football that I want to play and we haven’t improved in the off-season to make sure we’re ready for the next step.”

Tottenham, who will have Pedro Porro back for the Villa Park trip but remain without Richarlison (knee), are also an example of a club who failed to progress after Champions League qualification in 2022.

Postecoglou’s predecessor Antonio Conte left 10 months after he secured fourth spot with Spurs, then going on to finish outside of the European spots last season.

It resulted in fan unrest before Postecoglou’s arrival united the fanbase, but supporters have expressed their frustration this week following changes to season ticket prices.

Spurs will increase season tickets prices by six per cent next season and, from the 2025-26 season, there will be no new senior concession season tickets available.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust were “dismayed” by the six per cent increase and labelled the changes to senior concessions as “unacceptable”, while a new fans group called Save Our Seniors has been created in an effort to co-ordinate a campaign to make the club reverse its decision.

Postecoglou said: “Supporters are the lifeblood of any football club and I am not going to try to dictate how they feel.

“They have a voice, they have a strong voice and avenues to express their opinions. I will always abide by that and accept that.”

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