There has been some utter nonsense spoken about since the full-time whilst blew in last night’s game, most of it from our critics in the media who simply cannot acknowledge that the performance and the result were better than they expected us to deliver.
I am not saying that these critics believed we would go out over the two legs.
Or at least, I’m not saying that a lot of them made such a prediction; most didn’t.
But I know that many of them thought it, and some even hoped for it.
When we went a goal down early in the home tie they were rubbing their hands and getting ready with the flamethrowers.
But during that game, Brendan changed the tactics and we turned in a fantastic display, scored three times and pretty much moved the tie beyond Rosenberg’s grasp. All we had to do last night was defend resolutely and keep calm. It was the home side who had to score twice, and no matter how poor our passing and some other elements of our game was in that first half, they never looked as if they would. Indeed, I never, at any point, thought they’d score one.
In Scotland, the media reserves all the good stories about our club in Europe for whoever we happen to be playing and this tie was no exception. They dragged up everyone they could find who was prepared to hail Bendtner as some kind of star who would terrorise our “inexperienced” defence; over the two legs he barely troubled us at all.
Celtic never has its critics to seek, and whilst many of them are nit-picking our first half display the one thing they cannot deny is the score-line when the two teams went in for the break; it was still 0-0, still 3-1 to Celtic on aggregate. The home team, who needed two, had failed to break through. When I read some of the absolute cobblers being written about Sevco’s three European matches so far – in none of them were they remotely impressive – I marvel at the reverse treatment we get.
Most of the hacks thought we’d struggle last night. Almost all believed we would concede a goal. Neither of those things happened. Even our so-called “disappointing” first half display was seen out without really putting us under pressure and the manager again proved what a fine tactician he is by changing the formation subtly for the second half, where we were, admittedly, better.
That was exactly what I wanted to see from a Celtic team playing a difficult European away game.
You can see this team growing on this stage.
I’m not saying we’re definitely going to go through to the Groups – AEK will provide us with a real test and there are some very decent teams going into the draw on Monday – but even without signings (come on Celtic, get at least one over the line before next Wednesday) this team is capable of it.
Even if we make it, I don’t expect some of these miserable hacks to give us credit for it.
They don’t have it in them.
They are a joke.