London: Andre Villas-Boas has told his Tottenham players they will have to raise their performance levels to new heights next season after they once again failed to qualify for the Champions League despite a club-record Premier League points total.
To finish fourth Villas-Boas' side had to beat Sunderland, which they did thanks to Gareth Bale's 88th-minute winner, but also needed Arsenal to fall short at Newcastle. Instead, Tottenham's north London neighbours also won 1-0 on Sunday.
Tottenham had to be content with a Europa League place even though their 72 points and 21 league victories were both improvements on last season, when Harry Redknapp's team finished fourth but also failed to qualify for the Champions League because sixth-placed Chelsea won the competition and qualified as holders.
"It's disappointing," Villas-Boas said.
"Reaching 72 points and not making Europe means that we will have to get more than that next season, particularly as the other clubs are already great, great squads and they will continue to add quality.
"Next year we will have to raise the bar once again and be extremely competitive because our competitors will do the same.
"The difference between the three London teams is very short. We got ever so close to them.
"They will do their job in the transfer window and we will do ours in the Tottenham way -- look for good grabs in the window to make ours an even stronger squad.
"I don't think we have a mental block about the top four. We have a competitive side with great determination and character.
"We don't need a lot to make us even better. We did enough to deserve it, but this year was very unusual. With this amount of points you would normally achieve a top-four finish."
As well as new signings, Villas-Boas needs to keep Wales winger Bale, who received the club's player of the season award to go alongside the Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' awards after the last in a series of spectacular goals, this one a curling shot from 25 yards to sink 10-man Sunderland.
"If you want to continue to improve you have to hold onto your assets," Villas-Boas said. "I think we will -- that's my information."
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio was pleased with his side's efforts, but he attacked the lack of professionalism shown by some of his players.
Di Canio singled out David Bardsley, dropped from the game after being photographed much the worse for wear in the early hours of Wednesday after celebrating Wigan's defeat at Arsenal, which guaranteed Sunderland's escape from relegation.
"There is no excuse," he said. "I know it's English culture but there's a right time and a wrong time and it's disappointing to see this image for the club.
"I always give players a second chance, but he's 31, we're not talking about a kid. If we don't punish this sort of behaviour, what sort of example is it for the young players? We have to defend the dignity of the profession.
"We've had more problems than I expected when I came here. In a week I gave out seven fines to seven players. It's a miracle we stayed up.
"We need to bring in six or seven players who have a good professional etiquette, and quality players, especially up front. We don't score enough goals."
And Di Canio wants to rid the squad of those who do not conform to his ideas of professional behaviour.
"It sounds as if the owner will support me completely, so we'll see," he added.