The Europa League draw has been made, and we have dodged the bullet. I am glad for that.
I wrote a piece on this earlier, and I was honestly concerned we might get a real nasty one.
We didn’t. We should have enough about us to take our place in the Groups.
I don’t need to point out how important – in fact, how vital – that will turn out to be.
Had we not even reached the Europa League group stages the consequences for our club would have been dramatic and almost immediate.
Top players would have been heading for the exits faster than you can say “fire sale of assets.” Our position was precarious here.
We put ourselves in that spot, as I wrote earlier. The draw – we’ll face Sarajevo or Budu?nost Podgorica if we get by Riga – could have been far tougher. I think we probably got the easiest games we could have hoped for. I am a little more optimistic this afternoon.
By God though, we had better not be complacent in how we approach the games.
If we aren’t totally locked in and focussed we could lose in one of these ties, and if that happens we will bear the full brunt of those consequences … and the manager will be under momentous pressure. We would survive it, but we would not do so comfortably.
We all accept that our club is vulnerable to the global health emergency. I don’t know a single Celtic fan who, even now, doesn’t expect us to sell at least one key footballer in the next few weeks to offset not only that but the Champions League exit.
We are realists about this stuff, and if we end this window without having done that I will credit this board with the balls to go for ten in a row and damn the overdraft. It will be a radical departure from the norm, but it will also be a welcome one.
Because we can take a one-season hit if we have to. Not every club can do that.
Regular readers know full well that myself and a lot of the other bloggers are of the view that the current status quo at Ibrox is unsustainable.
They needed to make a big sale in this window before they spent any of the money they’ve already laid out.
The global health crisis has clearly had an impact over there, and we know this because it’s had an impact everywhere, even if the people who run that club are living in denial and don’t want to be honest about it.
Today, Gerrard sounded the first note of alarm we’ve heard from that club during the whole of this crisis; he has admitted that he wants more players and the board has now told him that further signings will depend on moving players on … this is the start of it, and their European draw today could only have been worse if Spurs had come out of the hat.
The Dutch club Willem II will be hard enough to get past, but Galatasaray will provide an even sterner test if they squeeze through in Holland. The match will be played at Ibrox, but nobody would say that it’s going to be an easy one come what may.
If Sevco goes out of the Europa League before the Groups, then the party is over at Ibrox and all pretence with it. The last few weeks of the transfer window will be a desperate scramble to sell as many players as they can offload to forestall monumental damage.
Furthermore, every club who does business with them will know the situation they are in.
There are no easy answers to their problems as they currently stand, but those problems will multiply exponentially if they crash out of Europe in the next few weeks. The media may try to dress this up as conferring some kind of advantage on them, as they won’t have to play so many games as us, but the financial hit will be catastrophic and the damage lasting.
The prospect of it terrifies them … and as it stands, Steven Gerrard, a manager who has not made one single player better, who spent a fortune and only bought his way to second place, is the guy they are relying on to get them through this.
If I were in their brown brogues, I’d be shaking in them just a little bit tonight.
The CelticBlog faces many challenges going forward. If you like what we do, please subscribe and never miss another article. If you’re on Facebook, join us on our Facebook Group or share us on yours, if you’re on Twitter remember and re-tweet all our work.