According to a recent interview with Celtic TV (via The Scottish Daily Mail), Brendan Rodgers has dubbed down the expectations surrounding his side and their Europa League chances this season. The Bhoys qualified for the group stages of Europe’s secondary competition earlier this month after getting past Suduva in the play-off round, and they will begin their group stage campaign against Rosenborg at Parkhead on Thursday night.
And there has been talk of Celtic potentially going all the way and reaching the final this season, talk Rodgers has moved to play down, but were the Northern Irishman to lead the Socttish giants to Europa League success this term, it would without doubt outweigh everything he has so far achieved at the club.
Ultimately, the job Rodgers has done since taking over at Parkhead back in 2016 has been nothing short of brilliant, what with the ex-Liverpool chief leading the club to back-to-back domestic trebles to further underline their domination of football north of the border.
In fact, his first season in charge saw his team go through the whole domestic season unbeaten, dropping just eight points in the league, and while they weren’t quite at that level last time round, to defend all three major trophies was an outstanding effort and achievement from Rodgers and his side.
However, the one thing the 45-year-old has been unable to improve is Celtic’s record on the European stage, with his side finishing bottom of their Champions League group in the 2016/17 campaign, before securing third place last term only to then lose to Zenit St Petersburg in the last-32 of the Europa League.
Yes, the Celtic boss can certainly bemoan some tough draws, but it’s clear that the Bhoys still remain some way off competing in European competition – yet there appears to be some optimism that they could produce the goods in the Europa League this term.
The group they have been drawn into alongside Rosenborg, Red Bull Salzburg, and RB Leipzig is one they will hope to progress from, but lurking in the knockout stages looks set to be the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, and AC Milan, as well as the eight teams that finish third in their Champions League groups – either way, it will be a tough ask.
And that’s why, were Rodgers to lead his side to Europa League success, it would represent his greatest achievement in charge of Celtic – the unbeaten season was magnificent and one of the best achievements in Scottish football, but to win a European competition, which includes some of the biggest clubs on the continent, would be on another level altogether.
Yes, it will be a tall order for the Bhoys to go all the way in the Europa League this term, but very few sides will enjoy playing at Celtic Park on a European evening, and they have shown with the odd performance here and there in recent times that they can mix it with some of the continent’s best sides – they will fancy their chances of a deep run.
And were they to go all the way under Rodgers, it would without doubt represent his best achievement as Celtic manager, and indeed in his managerial career to date.
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