CELTIC are in no man’s land to a certain degree with their Champions League fate up in the air. The uncertainty over our opponents, progress, ability to qualify and how we go about doing so is all under the spotlight.
It has been argued to death that Celtic should not have to play one qualifier let alone three in their pursuit of the ‘promise land’ – such is the beast, the club must jump through hoops to get there.
This leaves the club in a state of flux where the uncertainty has a knock on effect to everything Brendan Rodgers wants to do. The players he talks about bringing in might be hedging their bets and waiting to see where Celtic land before coming to the table for serious talks. In the same way, the club will be trepidatious about spending a large amount of cash on a ‘Champions League’ player when we might not even make it to the dance.
Even getting rid of players that the manager doesn’t necessarily want becomes tougher as they may be needed for backup should injury’s arise during qualifiers.
Celtic will be quietly confident of being in the Champions League but before last season we failed in our previous two attempts and that’s still fresh in the memory. The club managed to get their last season, even with Rodgers being relatively new to the role with a bunch of players he was still to assess properly.
A year on and Celtic are a more mature, well-oiled bunch and something has to be said for that. Thankfully, Celtic will be seeded throughout the qualifiers, if that’s any consolation to the fans who think we should go straight in.
If or when Celtic manage to book their place into the group stage there could be major movement, but with playoff qualifiers coming very late in the window it may be a race against time to get anyone else in.
We await our second round opponents, with a trip to Belfast looking the most likely. The journey begins in little over a week, and while it’s the time of year when we’re probably most anxious as a fanbase, we should enjoy the journey and in doing so will get to our destination without too many hiccups.