The flight back from Croatia after being humiliated in the round of 16 by Dinamo Zagreb would have been a quiet one for the Tottenham Hotspur players.
The curtain would have officially come down on their European adventure when the wheels left the runway and the plane began making its way back to London. Bringing to an end any chance of glory on the continent this season.
The furthest Jose Mourinho’s men will travel again this campaign will be to Newcastle over Easter. In a desperate bid to make sure they are playing European football again next season.
Something that is far from assured at the moment.
The latest Premier League betting with Betfair Exchange shows that Spurs are at odds of 4/1 to qualify for the Champions League and evens to make the Europa League. Punters will know that nothing is guaranteed at those prices and questions will be asked about how much longer Spurs can afford to underachieve.
It does just feel like the 2020/2021 season has gone up in smoke for Spurs. This despite having a League Cup final to look forward to in April after beating Brentford in the semi-finals. Overcoming a rampant Manchester City looks, should we say, unlikely given Spurs’ recent form.
Will A League Cup Win Salvage The Season For Spurs?
But even if Spurs were to do a job on City after defending for 90 minutes, only to snatch a winner against the run of play, you can’t help but feel that the club still has to make a decision on the way ahead. At the end of the day, a smash and grab League Cup win will only serve to paper over fault line-sized cracks. Of course, Mourinho may go down in history for helping Spurs win a trophy. But then again so did George Graham in 1999, and Juande Ramos in February 2008. The point is, neither of those managers are remembered particularly fondly by Spurs fans.
What Spurs ultimately need is a long-term plan and a new philosophy. Naturally, no one at the club wants to commit to that when you consider the trophy drought they have endured. Starting from the beginning again will, unfortunately, mean the chances of silverware in the short term are slim. But when you take into account what happened in Zagreb, supporters can see that there is little guaranteed even when prioritizing trophies over style.
Indeed, there was a begrudging acceptance of Mourinho's football so long as he kept winning on a Thursday night. All would be forgiven if he could take Spurs to Gdansk in May to compete in a Europa League final.
Instead, Spurs spiralled out of control and crashed long before their intended destination. Which will be a sobering reminder of how much time Spurs have used up in their quest to win trophies under Mourinho. There is no such thing as a quick fix in football . And Spurs may well have backed the wrong man to change the ethos of the club.
The tipping point has been reached and it seems the only option that is left for Daniel Levy is to go back to the drawing board.