Bodo Glimt duly finished off the job they started in Glasgow last night with a 2-0 win. In fairness, they didn;t even have to break sweat.
We should be used to losing to sides with far less European pedigree than Celtic by now, but we are where we are.
The disappointment doesn’t get any less. Neither, it appears, does the criticism.
On paper, we should have overcome the Norwegians, at least according to those who point to wage bills and the size of the support etc., but the reality is Celtic aren;t ready for latter stage competition yet at this level.
We can blame who we want, but that record has long since worn out it’s grooves, and whilst it’s 2004 ( Barcelona ) since the hoops won a tie after the group stages, at least this time we can say that we may well have learned something from it.
At least, you’d hope so.
One encouraging sign was that post match , the manager was angry. When asked by a Norwegian journalist if Bodo could win the tournament, he was less than diplomatic… even shouting, in italics…
MATE, COME ON. ASK THEIR COACH. WHY DO I CARE? REALLY. DO YOU THINK I REALLY CARE WHO WINS THIS TOURNAMENT NOW? WE’RE NOT GOING TO WIN IT.
“THEY’RE A GOOD TEAM, I HOPE THEY KEEP GOING WELL, BUT I COULDN’T CARE LESS WHO WINS THE TOURNAMENT.
That shows a focus that perhaps hasn’t been there in previous years. A disinterest in all but his own team.
It also mirrors the anger and disappointment we all feel.
Joe Hart, who broke character during the game and caught a high ball, added..
“Have you ever seen the manager look happy? That’s just his face!
“Of course he wasn’t happy. None of us were happy.
For a long time I’ve felt that players don’t feel a defeat the way fans do, and if that mentality has changed or even just taken root, then we might finally see the end of such horror shows as Bodo, Cluj, and several other clubs going as far back as Nuechatal Xamax, Artmedia and even before that.
It was maybe too much to expect Celtic , still a new team playing a new style, to make a mark on the continent this season, and that should lessen our disappointment, but we’ll be stronger next time, and more importantly, a little bit more streetwise.
Most of the squad hadn;t even played in European football before this season, and the manager certainly hadn;t managed a side at this level.
We did okay for a first tilt, and we might have sown the seeds for a better run next year.
What might have fuelled supporters anger is that “rangers ” have progressed beyond one of Europe’s bigger clubs in Borussia Dortmund.
what they do is of little concern to us, or at least it should be, but they are doing something right in these games, and although it might not be enough to dazzle and enthrall spectators, it’s getting them results.
As far as I can see it, if that collection of journeymen can progress, then anyone can.
Maybe they are lucky, maybe they are better than we give them credit for.
Maybe they played a bigger club who treated the Europa league as a secondary concern, though that matters little. They are through, and that annoys us.
So what now ?
Is it time to panic ? Is the train going off track ?
We are very much a work in progress, and progress is being made.
Social media has given the support a platform to criticise Celtic, and some players were on the end of it last night.
Players will have bad games, but the responses from fans, such as “he’s done ” ( Forrest ) and others shows a lack of patience and an unnatural expectation that all players will play at their best in all games.
Same with the barbs aimed at the manager.
Last night;s team selection surprised a few of us, most of us probably, with a few changes.
Was this because Ange had given up on the tie ? Hardly likely, given his post match reaction, he just thought that this was the best way to begin the game, clearly hoping to settle in and absorb any pressure.
The early goal put that plan to bed , though, and he changed it around at half time.
Now, supposing he had gone full tilt with what we think is the best line up, and someone such as Jota or Carter Vickers had picked up an injury.
We all know he’d have been hammered for that, so it’s fair to say whatever the reasons were for the changes, they were his reasons and if we are to back him as he rebuilds our club, we have to acknowledge that.
Hindsight is the most useless of arguments.
It’s back to the league campaign on Sunday, with a trip to Easter road.
The first of eleven games, that if Celtic win them all, they will be champions.
With that should come automatic group stage UCL football.
that will make it easier to keep the players we want to keep, sign the loannees we want to sign and attract the players that will raise the overall standard.
If Ange did decide to prioritise the Hibernian game, and the rest of the domestic campaign, then looking at the bigger picture, it’s not difficult to see why.