Following Celtic’s dismal 4-2 aggregate defeat to Portugese side Braga questions must be raised. Where has the ambition gone? Up until the last couple of seasons Celtic were a side capable of beating some of Europe’s big guns. The big victories always came at home, but they still recorder some marvellous results.
In the 06/07 Champions League they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Celtic Park. The following season was even more impressive; beating AC Milan, Benfica and Shakhtar Donetsk to qualify for the knockout stages where they put in a spirited performance before losing 4-2 on aggregate to Barcelona.
Comparing their squad now to five years ago can go some way to explaining why they’re so poor.
In 04/05 they had Magnus Hedman in goal. A very capable keeper with tons of international experience. Currently they have Lukasz Zaluska, a man who can’t get the Polish no1 jersey.
At the back they had Henchoz, Laursen and Balde. Strong, no-nonsense defenders, if not a little uninspiring. Now they’ve got Mulgrew, Hooiveld and Loovens. All Championship standard players.
Comparing midfields is outrageous. They’ve gone from having Juninho, Petrov and Lennon to Ledley, Sung-Yong and McCourt. Of the three Ledley having played at the highest level, The Championship. Scott Brown and Aiden McGeady are good players, though the latter looks certain to leave anytime now.
The old forward line had a choice of Bellamy, Hartson and Sutton. The current forwards are Samaras and Maloney, two men who couldn’t cut it in the Premiership, and Gary Hooper.
The simple fact is, you can’t sign Championship standard players and expect to do well in Europe’s elite competition. I’m not saying I expect Celtic to sign Luis Fabiano’s or Cambiasso’s, because obviously they can’t. But there are players out there who would improve their side and would want to play for Celtic I’m sure. The mid-table Premiership sides have all got one or two players capable of more. And surely playing in front of sixty-thousand at Celtic Park is more appealing than playing in front of twenty-thousand at Ewood Park?
Despite the poor standard of the Scottish league Celtic are, and always will be, a big club. They’ve excellent facilities, a great fan base, fantastic history and European football on offer virtually every season.
I hope Neil Lennon will do a good job for Celtic and that they’ll bring in a couple of good, proven players. Bring back Robbie Keane I say!
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