Clint Dempsey admits Tottenham's season should be judged as a failure if they do not bounce back from their Europa League exit by finishing in the Barclays Premier League's top four.
Dempsey scored twice on Thursday night in a 2-2 draw in Basel, but it was not enough to send Spurs through to the semi-finals of Europe's second-tier competition as Andre Villas-Boas' men suffered a dramatic 4-1 defeat on penalties after missed spot-kicks from Tom Huddlestone and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Tottenham will drop to fifth if Arsenal win their game in hand against Norwich on Saturday and Dempsey said: "We have to make sure we finish in fourth place and make sure we're in the Champions League next year. That's the only thing we can do to salvage this season and say we had a good year. That's been the goal for the season."
As Villas-Boas acknowledged in February, failure to qualify for the Champions League could have serious consequences for Spurs.
Tottenham's new year financial results showed a 12 per cent drop in revenue, but the biggest problem caused by another year of failure could be the potential loss of star man Gareth Bale.
A 10-day break until their next game against Manchester City - when Villas-Boas expects Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe to be fit again - will work in Tottenham's favour, but Dempsey has warned his team-mates they still must work extremely hard to make the top four.
"The break will help, because the more players you have fit, the more competition there is for spots," he added. "You need that push towards the end because it's going to be difficult.
"We've got some difficult games. We've got Chelsea, we've got Man City, so we're going to need everyone fit and fighting to try to push for that Champions League.
"It's not going to be given to you. You have to fight until the end and we're still in with a shout to make that happen.
"I think it's going to come down to the last game."