Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has set his sights on winning next season’s Europa League – but couldn’t resist a needless dig at Mauricio Pochettino first.
Spurs took a big step towards reaching the second-tier European competition after beating Arsenal 2-1. The match was the first ever north London derby at their new home, with Toby Alderweireld scoring a late winner.
They moved above the Gunners into eighth, a position which would seal qualification if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld on Monday morning.
Mourinho has already won the Europa League and the competition in its former guise as the UEFA Cup twice and wants his side to allow him a crack at a third.
However, but for the poor form Spurs suffered under Pochettino at the start of the season, he thinks Tottenham would be on course to finish fourth.
Mourinho pointed out that if the season had started when he took over on November 20, Tottenham would still be in contention for one of the top places.
“I know I could look at in a selfish point of view and say since I arrived, if the championship started in that moment, even with all the problems we had I think we would now be fourth or fifth in the table,” Mourinho said.
“But I don’t want to be selfish. Nor do I don’t want to look at it just as a fan that is happy to finish above Arsenal.
“I have to be more ambitious than that.”
Mourinho makes Lewis Hamilton comparison
In the long term, however, Mourinho is focused on bringing silverware to Tottenham.
“I would love to play Europa League.
“It is not a competition I am in love with, it is not a competition that I like very, very much to play. But when you cannot play the Champions League, you play the Europa League.
“In my career I have only played the Europa League twice and I have won it twice. It would not be bad to play a third time and win it a third time. We have to fight until the end to finish in a Europa League place.
“If you ask (six-time Formula One world champion) Lewis Hamilton if he wants to win Formula Two, I don’t think it will be a great deal for him. But it is a competition and I prefer to play Europa League than to not play.
“I think it is a title Tottenham would obviously (like to) get. I think we should do everything possible to play Europa League next season and we have to fight for that.”