Celtic supporters have been drowning their sorrows in recent times after seeing their side suffer a disappointing Europa League defeat on Thursday night.
Brendan Rodgers’ men went into their clash with Red Bull Salzburg having beaten Rosenborg 1-0 in their opening group stage match, and having won two of their three domestic games in between that and Thursday’s trip to Austria. And although they took the lead through Odsonne Edouard after just two minutes, things went very wrong indeed for the Bhoys after half time in eventually going down 3-1 to Salzburg, a result which leaves them third in Group B.
Thus, there have been many disappointed Celtic fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from BBC Scotland’s Chris McLaughlin, who has delivered a damning verdict on the Bhoys’ efforts on Thursday night, saying they had ‘no answers’ to the hosts, and that their ‘swagger has gone’.
And that display, alongside their far from convincing start to the new season, suggests that McLaughlin’s verdict on the Scottish champions is absolutely spot on.
Ultimately, many expected the Bhoys to make another statement during the summer after win the domestic treble for a second successive year last season, especially given the noise coming from Rangers following their appointment of Steven Gerrard.
Yet Rodgers’ men brought in just six new players of which three were on loan deals and two were for free – in fact, the record-breaking deal to bring Edouard to the club permanently was the only fee they paid for a player during the summer.
Thus, there was a huge emphasis on the players already at Celtic Park to again produce the goods this term, but in losing Moussa Dembele late on in the window, it was always going to be a tough ask – and so it has proven.
Rodgers’ men failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time under his stewardship, losing in the third qualifying round, while they have already lost twice in the Scottish Premiership to sit fifth and six points behind early pace-setters Hearts.
And while there has been signs of recovery in recent weeks, McLaughlin is spot on to suggest that their ‘swagger has gone’, as they have only managed narrow victories over Aberdeen, St Johnstone, and Rosenborg in recent times – they swatted the first two aside at times last season.
And Thursday’s loss was something of a culmination of their sluggish start to the campaign, with their defensive vulnerabilities rearing their head once again as Salzburg grew in confidence in the second half – McLaughlin rightly states that Celtic had ‘no answers’ to the hosts when they began to turn the screw.
Clearly,, this Celtic side is looking a shadow of the team that have won each of the last six domestic trophies north of the border – it’s going to be a tough ask to defend all three this time round.
Thus, McLaughlin’s damning verdict of where Celtic are currently at under Rodgers, alongside their inability to deal with the threat of Salzburg on Thursday, is absolutely spot on.
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