Spurs play Qarabağ FK under the lights at White Hart Lane. You might have never heard of this Azerbaijani football club before but you'll know plenty about Anderlecht and Monaco. The Europa League is upon us again which means we'll spend more time worrying about all the rescheduled Sunday league games rather than focus on the group stage.
The Europa has always been an afterthought. A nuisance. It's because it's not the Champions League and doesn't have the glamour. Although Qarabağ aside, this time round the group has a far better look to it. I can't see the fans travelling to the French Riviera complaining. And as for the Belgian club, we have a bit of history with them harking back to the iconic 1984 UEFA Cup final.
In recent seasons we haven't looked the part. Disinterested and disjointed. It's not just the fact we've rotated and rested players but the actual application on the pitch has been reserved. This is a cup competition. Regardless of the winners getting a CL ticket, it's silverware. It's a chore to start off with, but if we're going to reclaim a sense of style and ambition then we have to see quantifiable evidence of it. The best reaction the supporters can give the team will be birthed from the team playing like they want to win the cup rather than just work through the 90 minutes on the night.
In the past I've often fought with my footballing morals over the importance of a top four place because of what it offers, in terms of stature and brand attraction.I guess it was easier to think that way when we actually had the tenacity and intent to contend with the seasoned qualifiers above us. Momentum has been lost and we're back in this eternal process of transitioning from a team that had swagger to one that struggles for it.
So what better fuel is there than seeking a brand new adventure, one that will only be enjoyable and fruitful if everyone believes in it. That's fans and players (and Mauricio Pochettino). Everyone.
Of course reality bites and will take a big chunk out of my romanticism. We only have Harry Kane as our single striker. We have midfield injuries with the likes of Ryan Mason, Mousa Dembele, Nabil Bentaleb and Christian Eriksen all currently out. The thick and fast nature of our fixture list means that our streamlined squad (and depleted midfield) will be tested. But we don't have deadwood, we have players that should all be fighting for a starting line-up. That, at the very least, is a pivotal change from the past few years. Competition for places should inspire.
I'm actually looking forward to it. I can't say I've felt that way for a while. But my enthusiasm will evaporate if the performances resemble the usual 'more bothered about Sunday than Thursday' mannerisms. It will be compounded further if our Sunday game levels drop because of European competition. We'll end up back in that cycle of cynicism, and the games will end up an obstacle rather than a quest.