Over two legs the score finished Malmo 4-3 Celtic, I had to sleep on it, let it sink in.
The overwhelming consensus from what I’ve seen is disappointment but a sobering realisation that we’re not cut out for this level of football at this moment which I agree with to an extent.
It’s no secret that Celtic aren’t the wealthiest and Scottish football isn’t a big draw for players but we met our maker to a team that shouldn’t have a chance against us. The plain and simple fact is we should be in the group stages this year and it’s an absolute travesty that we aren’t. We have been let down big time by our beloved club and there’s blame an all sides.
Tactical naivety – I love Ronny and what he is trying to do but some big decision he has made have been detrimental to the cause.
Zonal marking – We lost 3 of 4 conceded to set pieces. This is school boy stuff. There is no accountability just ball watchers waiting for someone else to do the job. We can get away more often than not domestically but Europe is a completely different beast. This needs to be addressed ASAP. Looking back at the first leg, when you’re 3-1 up with 15-20 minutes to go, why do you bring on a striker instead of an extra defender to see the game out? I felt this was a strange decision at the time and we know how that turned out. I’m not calling for Ronny to go yet like some are, we forget he is still a young manager with things to learn and these bad experiences/results even though they sting right now can only help in future. I’m prepared to give Ronny another year providing he helps deliver the title and a cup or two but if we find ourselves in the same situation next year I think the club will need to evaluate their options.
The game itself, our “big players” Brown, Biton, Johansen etc were nowhere to be found. Our captain said he was “ashamed” of the performance and you’ll find no right minded person disagreeing with him. No one got going at all with the exception of Craig Gordon and it’s simply not good enough.
Less than a week earlier a good performance domestically seen players like Biton receive praise and rightly so but has this went to their head already? It seems to me that the task at hand was horrendously underestimated by the players which leads me to ask is it a mental issue, good footballers crumbled in what was a good atmosphere but nothing that rivaled the Wednesday previous at Parkhead. Jim McGuinness was brought in to get the players heads right so if they weren’t then why not?
So what is it then? Did they just not want it enough? Serious questions need to be asked about certain people’s commitment to the cause. Some of our new signings just don’t seem to cut it. Ciftci has been a dud since signing from Dundee United although with intermittent games due to suspension there maybe hope for him if he gets match fit and sharp. Boyata started off so well but seems to be spending too much time with Efe Ambrose; Janko for me just didn’t make an impression. We need Lustig to be fit and when you’re signing someone to be a backup for lustig, you’re never going to get a great player but I think Janko is decent enough for the job in hand domestically. We’re crying out for a complete overhaul of the defence and I wonder…now that the Champions League is out the way and Virgil’s on the way out. This is an opportunity to bleed in young talent like O’Connell because I can’t see us spending good money on a new defence anytime soon.
Despite all the negativity, what’s done is done and we must now look at ways of improving. There are some big teams in the Europa League and we better get wise quickly or we could be shown up in Europe’s Second Tier competition.
We are Celtic supporters, faithful through and through. And we’ll get behind Ronny and the team wherever they take us. We all just hope it’s to a treble Ronny!