Jose Mourinho uses winning next season’s Europa League as Tottenham motivation
Spurs sit in seventh, which could be good enough for European qualification depending on who wins the FA Cup.
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has told his players they will win the Europa League next season if they can qualify.
Three wins out of their last four games have made them favourites to book a spot in Europe’s second tier going into the final two matches of the Premier League season, starting with Leicester on Sunday.
Sixth place would definitely secure qualification, while seventh would do the job if Arsenal do not win the FA Cup.
Mourinho is using the prospect of silverware next season as a motivational tool to make sure his players get the job done.
“In quite a funny way, I’m telling the players, two more victories to win the Europa League,” he said. “That’s what I’m telling the players.
“I know it’s not like that, I know the Europa League is a long competition and of course some good teams, of course some teams go from Champions League to Europa League in the knockout phase and makes it a really difficult competition.
“But it’s just a feeling to try to motivate the boys because of course our level is Champions League. I want Champions League, the players played Champions League final.
“That’s the level of our club, of our stadium. That’s what the fans want, that’s what we as a club wants.
“I’m just trying to motivate the troops because it’s very important to keep that motivation. It’s not possible that Sheffield United, Wolverhampton and Arsenal, it’s not possible they have more motivation than us to get one of these spots.
“Europa League is good, you can rotate players, it’s a fantastic experience for younger people that maybe Champions League comes too early for them. I think it’s good, I think we have to try that.”
Jan Vertonghen could be set to play his final home game at the club as he is out of contract at the end of the season and no deal looks forthcoming.
Mourinho did not commit either way, but gave a glowing answer about a defender who has represented Spurs with distinction.
“Someone who has been in the club for eight months cannot speak about somebody who has eight years of brilliant contribution to the club,” he said.
“The only thing I can say is every day is a pleasure for me to work with a guy of his dimension. I can only have very good words about Jan. His future belongs to him.
“At the moment we will inform and that’s the correct procedure for a player of the last generation at the club. Eight years means a lot in modern football.”
Mourinho was also tight-lipped on reports Beijing Guoan defender Kim Min-jae is on his way to London to discuss a move to Spurs.
“I don’t speak about players from other clubs,” he said. “I hate when coaches from other clubs speak about my players, I have always this respect for the clubs and for other club’s coaches, so you are not going to get a word on me from any player that is not done with Tottenham.
“No way, I don’t deny, I don’t confirm, never.”
Mourinho did confirm that Dele Alli will miss Sunday’s match with Leicester with his hamstring injury while the club will again allow Serge Aurier to decide whether he is involved.
The right-back played against Newcastle on Wednesday just 48 hours after his brother was killed, but he is currently back in France with family.
“Let’s see, let’s wait. If he comes back tonight to train tomorrow morning he will be, I don’t know, he will be available,” Mourinho said.
“He did it in very difficult circumstances against Newcastle. Now he goes to France, to see family, comes back.
“Let’s see. It’ll be always Serge’s decision, it’ll be him opening his heart and let us understand his conditions.”