Champions League Over And Out "For Now`

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Champions League Over And Out "For Now`

Postby jimbob » Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:50 pm


And so ended a Champions League sequence that started at Parkhead with a missed penalty, and ended there with a two-nil win over a team from Spain, a result which at any other time would have been a cause for pride and celebration. It’s not that last night meant nothing, it’s just it never meant what he’d hoped it would mean when the draw was made all those months ago.

This campaign has not been our toughest; in terms of the draw, that one would have to have been our 2004-2005 season, when again we finished with just five points, but from a group featuring Barcelona, AC Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk. The teams this year came nowhere near that formidable standard, but still includes the team which finished third in Spain last year and, of course, the Champions League holders.

So, not a great year. But, aside from the ignominy of not qualifying for the UEFA Cup, not a great shock and despite what the press might say, no great shame either.

The question we need to ask today, however, is where it all went wrong.

There are two answers to this question, one an easy, snap judgement, the other more complicated. The easy answer is to talk about money. Did any Celtic supporter really believe the summer transfer spending had left us in good shape for an assault on Europe’s richest tournament? When you examine what other clubs had spent, the answer is certainly no ………… and yet some of those clubs fell at the Champions League hurdle anyway.

Zenit St Petersburg, Dynamo Kiev, our old friends Shakhtar. With oil fortunes ruling the Russian game, and top players signing for their teams, very few sides in Europe have spent the kind of money these teams have, and yet all three are out of the premier competition this morning. Money does not guarantee success.

A more pressing question is this; would we have made better progress had top stars presently at the club not been out injured? We played every group match minus Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink in a starting eleven (he was a sub both against Aalborg and Villarreal), for the game in Manchester we were missing Jan as well as Samaras and for the home game were missing both these players plus Aiden McGeady and a not fully fit Nakamura only made the bench. A number of these players returned for the Aalborg game away, but their lack of match fitness was obvious from the start.

Not only physical fitness, but psychological fitness has played a part in this years campaign, for this Celtic team seems haunted by the awful statistical fact that we have yet to win an away match in the Champions League group stages. Every match we play away from home adds to the tally, and this adds to the pressure. This is why the Aalborg result was crushing on so many levels. In simple terms, it was a match we needed to win to get that monkey of our backs. The press will never tire of casting it at us, increasing the pressure still further. In short, it must be the top priority in our next campaign.

As far as European football is concerned, we are done for the year. This is a blow, and it’s a big loss to us in terms of prestige, experience and finance. But the task before the players is now less complicated; we need to dominate domestically.

What we all want now is a wee treble in the New Year!

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Re: Champions League Over And Out "For Now`

Postby EDN1CSC » Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:17 pm

That Champions League campaign should be a wake up call for the PLC board to get there finger out once and for all and get some quailty players in.

I would disagree with you saying no great shame, ok its not the end of the world but that aalborg team were below average we should have been able to take 6 points off them.

As you say we need to dominate domestically now and hope we can, its certainly not going to be easy.

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Re: Champions League Over And Out "For Now`

Postby jbd » Thu Dec 11, 2008 10:25 pm

That "below average" Aalborg team drew with Celtic away from home and beat them at home, drew with Villareal (when they were still competing) at home and drew with Man U away from home, coming from behind, to go 2-1 ahead. Not bad, I would say. Just because you've never heard of them, doesn't make them some sort of pub team.
I was interviewed, as a Celtic fan, on Danish TV prior to our game at Celtic Park. When asked if I thought that Celtic would show Aalborg proper respect, I replied that I hoped our players would show them a little bit more respect than our fans probably would. Seems I was wrong.
We're out of the competition. Get over it. We'll be back. Gordon Strachan and some of the players are quoted as saying that we've learned something from this campaign. I certainly hope so.
Hail hail.

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