It Is Now Obvious That Celtic’s Board Has Accepted Life In The Slow Lane.

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Yesterday, during a break in the play, the Sky cameras lingered for a moment on Dominic McKay. He was sitting, apparently, alone, in the stand as the game unfolded.

He was also at the game in midweek, in Denmark, alongside the invisible chairman.

It is hard to know what was going through their minds as they saw the home club knock us out of the Champions League, just as it was hard to work out what was going through McKay’s mind yesterday as he watched us lose our first game in the league.

Were there regrets for all the time squandered, all the things not done? Was there any realisation that this dip has been inevitable for years, and that we’re only now fully reaping what we’ve been sewing as a club for a long, long time?

Most importantly, Is there a plan to elevate us above our present circumstances and the limitations we have, wholly needlessly, imposed on ourselves?

Years of rowing backwards are what got us here.

Years of neglect.

Years of gradual downsizing.

It is scandalous to see the regression expressed so clearly as going into the match with a third rate keeper, a Kilmarnock left back and three academy players making up the rest of the backline.

Two more of the starters are certain to quit the club this month.

If Edouard goes we’re relying on Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths (God help us) to carry the team through until January. I have precisely zero confidence that it would get us even close to a challenge.

The drop-off in the quality of this team, from where we were just a few years ago, has been horrific and so has the way in which good players have been allowed to depart so that we could shave a few quid off the wage bill. No part of the team is remotely as well staffed, or with as much quality, as it was just a few short years ago.

This rebuild has been needed for a while, and our penchant for cheap solutions and sticking plaster fixes is why it’s now of such gargantuan proportions.

Almost every Celtic manager in the last 20 years has faced the same difficulty; being forced to do more with less.

It seems to me, at times, that every success we have simply leads the board to wonder what would happen if they reduced the quality on hand just a little?

Would we still be able to win?

Would we still be able to dominate the game here, and stay respectable abroad?

It’s like we’re involved in some kind of twisted, backward football experiment; can you really continue winning things if the squad is made weaker year by year by year?

The answer is staring us in the face, and on Thursday night we might find that it’s a far bleaker one that anybody anticipated.

The consequences of crashing into the Europa Conference League would be disastrous, and we’d still have to play two games to guarantee getting there anyway.

It is almost unbelievable that our club has found itself in this position, where even contemplating such a fall in a serious manner should be necessary. What a disastrous slide these people have presided over.

Our club is one notch up from being a laughing stock and what’s obvious from this week is that our leaders have now reconciled themselves to this fate.

For months this website and others screamed about the transfer deadlines which were looming.

Not only that, but it was obvious that new signings would need time to bed into the squad, and travel restrictions and post-Brexit work permit issues were not great secrets which were only uncovered when we had the signings just about done … they were risks which were known from the start, and still we dithered and delayed and messed about.

No Celtic side of my generation has ever gone into a European tie so scandalously unprepared and short in key positions, but we know that it’s far from the first time that this has been true.

As far back as I can remember Celtic has been sending managers into these games weaker than we were before the previous campaign had ended.

Neil Lennon, in his first spell at the club, had to watch as his final European campaign was blighted by the squad being made weaker in every consecutive qualifying tie.

That was sheer vandalism overseen by the current directors and the departed ex-CEO.

But this makes that year look like reaching for the stars.

If the actual intent here had been to crash out of Europe early, they could not have done more to secure that outcome and the final proof of it is that McKay and Bankier sat and watched that shocker on Wednesday and here we are, on Sunday, and the squad is no stronger for it with Thursday a must-win game.

Not only do we look stuck in the slow lane, but these people have accepted it.

The next time you hear about how this club considers itself a Champions League team try not to laugh. Or cry, which is probably the more appropriate emotion.

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