September 21 2014 Latest news:
By Nick Wright
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Tottenham legend Gary Mabbutt has urged Tim Sherwood and his players to ignore the Europa League critics and focus on reaching the final.
Spurs will look to put their recent domestic struggles behind them when they face Portuguese side Benfica in their round of 16 tie at White Hart Lane on Thursday night.
Head coach Sherwood was furious after Spurs’ 4-0 thrashing by Chelsea on Saturday left their top four hopes hanging by a thread, and Mabbutt believes they should focus on the Europa League.
“We’re in the last 16 now. It’s going to be a very tough game for us,” Mabbutt said at the Football Legends Awards in aid of the Willow Foundation.
“If we could be in Turin at the Europea League final and see Michael Dawson lift that trophy at the end of the season it would be fantastic,” he added.
The Europa League is written off by some managers, but Mabbutt insists the trophy is well worth fighting for.
“People have spoken about the different value of competitions, it’s nonsense,” he said.
“Footballers want to win every single competition they’re playing in, whether it’s the Capital One Cup or the Europa League.
“Look at the Man City team when they won the League Cup. You look at Vincent Kompany when he lifted that trophy, the look on his face – was that the look of someone who thinks we shouldn’t really be here? No.
“They won the trophy, they outplayed other teams to win it. For them, the players and the supporters, it was a fantastic day.”
Mabbutt, who won the UEFA Cup with Spurs in 1984, also defended under-fire boss Tim Sherwood.
He said: “Whoever you are, if you’re in the realms of being a football manager, the speculation over your position in that role happens every single week.
“Whether your team is winning or losing, there’s always speculation.
“It’s one of those profession where, no matter what happens, there’s always going to be questions asked.
“ The only time you believe any of it is when something definitely happens. The rumours cause far more trouble than it’s worth.
“Certainly clubs want to be winning things. Certainly they want winners to be managers. If you look at Tim’s career on the field, every single game he played he gave 100 per cent and he wanted to be a winner.
“I think Tim’s learnt very quickly. Going from the role he had to being the first team manager was a very different role and a big step up.
“Everyone has to be impressed with what he’s achieved.”