Celtic supporters in the Transfer Tavern were beaming with pride on Tuesday night after seeing their side narrowly lose out to German giants Bayern Munich in the Champions League, although their 2-1 defeat to Jupp Heynckes’ side has ended their qualification hopes.
Brendan Rodgers’ men went into their clash with the Bundesliga leaders having won one of their opening three group stage games, but fell behind midway through the first half after Kingsley Coman pounced on a Dedryck Boyata error to fire the visitors in the lead. However, the hosts battled and deservedly equalised 16 minutes from time through Callum McGregor’s fine finish, although they were level for just a matter of minutes as Javi Martinez rose highest to seal the win for Bayern, who in turn made sure that the Bhoys were unable to qualify for the knockout stages.
Nonetheless, it was a spirited performance from Rodgers’ men against one of Europe’s elite and it stimulated nothing but praise from several of our resident Celtic supporters, who will now turn their attentions back to the Scottish Premiership and a trip to St Johnstone on Saturday, where if they avoid defeat they will set the record of 63 domestic games unbeaten.
And Rodgers will look towards the talented duo of Moussa Dembele and Kieran Tierney in a bid to break their own 100-year record at the weekend, both of whom have reportedly been attracting intense interest from sides south of the border.
Reports suggest that 17 Premier League clubs were in attendance at Celtic Park last night to keep tabs on the Celtic pair, both of whom performed admirably in a fine Bhoys display on Tuesday evening.
And as such teams like Manchester United, Tottenham, and Manchester City are reportedly seeking to lure the duo to the English top-flight, but Celtic must make their intentions clear by keeping both Dembele and Tierney for the long term.
And that’s because they are building something under manager Rodgers, and last night’s efforts against one of the favourites for the Champions League suggests that the club are certainly heading in the right direction.
Ultimately, what former Liverpool boss Rodgers has achieved so far with Celtic is unprecedented, having yet to lose a domestic match and thus winning all domestic trophies, and indeed looking like sealing a place in this year’s Europa League knockout stages.
And although many will say that Celtic should be dominating Scottish football, why hasn’t someone in the last 100 years been able to go 62 matches unbeaten? More credit should be headed the Northern Irishman’s ways.
And their sensational display against Bayern on Tuesday night was the clearest indication yet that Celtic are building under Rodgers, and are beginning to compete on the European stage once more.
The Bhoys were magnificent and could quite easily have got something from the game, with two sloppy goals in either half ultimately the difference between the two sides, and further indication that, although they were excellent yesterday, they still have a bit more work to do.
And having got into this position, third in their Champions League group and looking likely to again dominate the Scottish domestic season, it would be a huge step back were they to let Dembele and Tierney go.
Both have been hugely influential during Rodgers’ tenure, and both will continue to be because they are that good and that talented. Interest is certainly going to mount up, but if Celtic are serious about competing and bridging that gap to the top sides in Europe, they can’t sell their best players.
But under Rodgers, having achieved what they have and the future looking extremely bright, they are now in a better position to keep their better players. And they quite simply have to if they are to take that next step in European competition.
Reports suggest that it may take £50 million to prize the pair away, but one cannot put a price on what it would mean to the Celtic fans and the club as a whole if players like Dembele and Tierney stayed at Parkhead to help them compete in Europe once again.
Tuesday was a glimpse into what the future could hold for Celtic under Rodgers and with this group of players – they cannot risk that by letting two of their most influential stars leave the club.
Celtic fans… what do you think? Let us know!