Tonight’s Champions League Exit was Avoidable

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I sit here at half time already consigned to defeat. At this point we trail1-0 on the night and a whopping 5-1 on aggregate. WOW! Can we let that sink in. Celtic are currently 5-1 down to Legia Warsaw – what happened?

It has been the perfect storm in a way.

First part of the storm was Neil Lennon’s team, a group of players that on more than one occasion have crashed and burned when the going got tough. Neil built a team that once conquered Barcelona, we now seem a million miles away from that result. The quality has been diluted year after year, some because the manager and his staff have failed to identify top players including a goal scoring striker after Hooper’s departure and more so because of the quiet downsizing by the clubs hierarchy – which takes me to the second part of this perfect storm. THE BOARD.

Now I’m not quick to bash the board like so many easily after any sort of defeat but this particular one stings more than others, especially because I know this Champions League KO could have been prevented. Celtic have had all summer after selecting a new manager to go about their business and make sure they have the players in place to go again in the Champions League. After all this was a team that got to the group stages last season by the skin of their teeth under a manager who knew their strengths and weaknesses in full at the time. So little wonder they have found the going tough this time in the second qualifier. Giving the manager absolutely nothing to work with to help guide him through these qualifiers. Neil Lennon cut a frustrated figure at Parkhead in his final months because of the lack of investment in his team, something that he admitted to last week when he spoke out after the clubs shocking result in Poland. He proclaimed it was “on the cards” because the board have failed to back the team with cold hard cash. I would have to agree with him. I guess the board will pat themselves on the back for being prudent now they aren’t getting CL income. A joke really.

The third part of this perfect storm was the new manager coming in. No matter who it was that got the job they had to come in and get to know the players. Ronny has had less than two months to asses the team he inherited from Lennon. Not nearly enough time to come to proper conclusions or realise what formations and tactics work best. This has shown this week and last as he made some decisions that looked very naïve. Now, I’m not having a go at our new manager, it’s a learning curve and he has not been in the job long enough for me to say he is not up to the task. After all recent Celtic managers have struggled in their first European outings but gone on to make a great impact. The jury is still out but he does need to be given the space to do this high pressured job.

Last but not least the 4th part of the storm is playing the game away from Celtic Park. Due to the Commonwealth games we have ended up at Murrayfield for the most important games in our season and when your back is against the wall and you need a massive performance you want to be at Celtic Park every time!

Combine the four things above and you have tonight’s result, as I’m typing now Legia have scored again. Pictures of the fans walking out the stadium in disgust clear for all to see. We have been well and truly battered by an average team.

Is it a blessing that this team didn’t grace the Champions League proper? Could you imagine the carnage against Europe’s Elite?

Celtic need to take a step back here to go forward in the long run. We now face a Europa League qualifier, which seems little consolation at this moment in time but where Ronny and the team could find some redemption if they can put a run together. IF.

With the Champions League money passing us by now Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk will look like massive walking bags of cash to our Chief Executive and I would be very surprised if either were still here come the end of the window.

A truly horrid result for Celtic tonight, and yes as I speak we are still playing. But I didn’t need to wait for the final whistle to do this particular post mortem.

Celtic must now show ambition going forward or risk the wrath of the paying supporter.

Saying that, a domestic treble would go a long way to healing the wounds of tonight but will that be possible if we get rid of our best players?

Who knows.

10 minutes to go…I might go to bed.



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