When it comes to being successful in the UEFA Europa League, Tottenham Hotspur FC are in safe hands with André Villas-Boas. However, the Portuguese manager admits he must instil a robust mentality in his squad at White Hart Lane if they are to overcome S.S. Lazio in their Group J opener and prosper in the competition.
The north London club failed to progress from the group stage last season having reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals the year before. Villas-Boas is keen to ensure that their second successive failure to return to Europe's grandest club competition does not deliver another disappointing UEFA Europa League campaign.
"If we were playing in the Champions League then players would be more willing, making sure they were completely fit and reacting differently to recovery time," said the former Chelsea FC manager. "I must create this habit of recovery and getting used to playing this schedule."
Villas-Boas became the youngest coach to win a major UEFA club competition with FC Porto in 2011 and is keen to preach the virtues of European success. "It's an extremely important competition, full of history, and generates great emotion when you win," the 34-year-old said. "I keep my medal in my house in Portugal. We can't think too much about the past because you constantly have to motivate yourself to win more."
José Mourinho's former assistant, who will be without Emmanuel Adebayor on Thursday due to a hamstring injury, knows Tottenham could hardly have had a more demanding opener after recording a first Premier League win of the season at Reading FC on Sunday. "We know Lazio are a very talented team, well driven and motivated," said Villas-Boas. "They have surprised everyone this season with a new manager and a new style, yet they have still had the results. They are well organised and will make it a tough game."
Vladimir Petković's impact has certainly been striking with three victories from three outings in Serie A and he is now challenging his charges to improve the patchy recent performances of Italian sides in the UEFA Europa League. "It is an important competition because all players must be able to prove themselves at an international level," said the 49-year-old.
"To improve you need to play against different types of teams on different stages. This will be a test technically and tactically, how we play under pressure and if we can impose our game on a famous team who have done great things over the last few years. We will respect them but ultimately we want to get the ball and impose ourselves."
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