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A Poor Night In The Third Tier Competition Doesn’t Change Celtic’s Priorities One Bit.

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Awful tonight. Nowhere near good enough to go out of this tournament 5-1 on aggregate to this side, who for all their ability remain limited although a very decent side at home.

But I am not in the least bit concerned with going out of this competition, nor with the manager’s decision to prioritise our domestic chances by leaving out key players in this tournament.

This was not a competition we were destined to win, and the effort could have been harmful to the key task at hand.

I am not saying we played these games at a low tempo, but we certainly didn’t give them our all.

As such, the aggregate score looks horrific.

For all that, I can’t say that I’m all that bothered about it.

That might not sound like a typical reaction to a European away defeat in Scandinavia but I’ve never hidden my disdain for this third tier tournament or the need for us to focus more on domestic conquest.

There are people like Rodger Mitchell who think this is parochial and stupid; he confirms himself as someone whose brain doesn’t always engage before he puts his thoughts out on Twitter with that kind of nonsense.

What is the sense in this team breaking its back to progress in a competition as low-bar as this, at the risk of Champions League Group Stage football next season, guaranteed?

It is a nonsense to suggest that we even risk that for the sake of this.

Celtic has to be the best team in Scotland before we even think about success on the bigger stage. We are not an EPL side for whom finishing 3rd means a place in the Groups and the enormous pot of money that comes just from being in that league.

We are an SPL team and only one of them can access that pot of gold without playing a brutally tough qualification campaign to get there. If he and others think that shouldn’t be the over-riding goal they are quite mad.

We need to be back on that stage, and we need the money that goes with it.

I would have sacrificed, gladly, wins home and away in this tie for that Giakoumakis winner at the weekend.

If anyone thinks that makes me small-minded or parochial they should pull their head out of their arse and start looking around them at the world we actually live in.

Knowing “our level” is impossible on a night light this.

I suspect we’re nowhere near being a Champions League team, but we are comfortably at the Europa League level, and especially based on our club’s income as compared to other clubs.

Look at Leicester. What’s their level?

They progressed tonight, but with EPL millions which we can’t access they probably won’t win this tournament.

What level are they at? In theory, because of the players they can afford and with Rodgers at the helm they should be able to outgun any side in this competition who they come across.

Will the English press crucify him if they get knocked out? Will there be inquests?

We play in Scotland. Our horizons are limited.

Our funds are limited.

All that doesn’t seem to be limited are the wild fantasises some people conjure up.

Well we’re still in Year One of a momentous club transformation.

Talk to me in Year Three if there’s still no sign of forward momentum on the European stage.

Rodgers, for all his ego and talent, never took us towards any Promised Land in Europe. Even when we did make the Groups we were subjected to appalling performances and shocking results.

In Year One of what Ange is building, this team was never going to die in the ditch for the sake of being featured in this competition on BT Sport on a Thursday night.

Our manager has a sense of what the priorities are, and now that this tier three side-show is over with we can focus on the real thing again, on securing that Champions League money and giving a chunk of the cash to a manager who will put it to good use.

You’ll have noticed that I’m not really writing about the game.

It’s because I genuinely put this competition out of my mind after last Thursday.

Tonight was a non-event, and whilst I won’t pretend it served up even the minimum I expected or hoped for, but I still can’t properly bring myself to care that much about it, knowing as I do that come Sunday it will be utterly forgotten if we leave Easter Road with the three points.

I didn’t enjoy that tonight. None of us did.

But it felt like watching a pre-season game.

There was nothing at stake, no lessons to learn and so no recriminations now that it’s done.

We are out of the competition, but in a close title race and with a domestic clean sweep on the horizon, to make it the fourth in five years, it hurts less than a stubbed toe.

So sit down, wait until the pain recedes, and get up and get on with it Celtic.

The business of this season was not going to be decided in Norway.

Ange Postecoglou and this team will be judged first by domestic success and then, in Europe, on a longer timeline than a mere eight months. We realise this, whether Mitchell and others believe it or not.

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  • Henry says:

    There were some lessons. The defence is nowhere near good enough. Secondly we need a N.o 8 (or No 10 as usually called in Europe), a Lubo type figure. Get those two sorted and we will be fine in the Champions League, assuming we can get there. Thirdly, a lot of the fringe players need to go. But I agree with the overall theme of the piece, the league was, is and must be our priority.

  • Hugh Gerard says:

    Nope, no lessons to learn. You won’t learn anything by playing half hearted with an, it doesn’t really matter attitude. You won’t learn anything by playing players who will not feature in the big euro ties when it does matter. Curious to know how and what they will learn with tonights set up.

  • jrm63 says:

    We played four halves of football against Bodo. We conceded within 10 mins in 3 of the 4 halves. Within 30 mins the tie was over. I agree with you about the title and team selection. But it does tell you something about shape, mental attitude and preparation. We were sliced open almost immediately. Why?

  • Dora says:

    Glad that conference tripe is done, not where the mighty Glasgow Celtic should be trading…didn’t happen in the Europa but there were serious positives to take from that..!
    Build some more after the league win and then we are proper—ready for Europe

  • Roonsa says:

    I would have preferred 0-0 obviously but I’m with you. I really wasn’t that bothered to be brutally honest..

    I do disagree with you, however, on the other piece about wanting the huns to get beat. I don’t know the score at this stage but if they win then it won’t do our title chances any harm. It’s nothing to do with the amount of games played. It’s the hangover after a game in Europe which is evident from both sides.

    There’s only one thing that matters. The League. And to attain that I will take all the advantages Celtic can get. Even if that means they get a bit more money. That money will be but a drop in the ocean compared to Champions League group stage dosh. I don’t want that lot anywhere near that.

    • Stevie says:

      You mention Leicester and their EPL budget and we should set our limits accordingly.

      We’ve just been destroyed by a team from Norway with nowhere near our budget and monetary resources.

      Time to waken up I’m afraid, we are nowhere near the level you and some others think we’re at. Yes we are winning domestically but Fir Park a few weeks ago ( where we were excellent) aside this team has not produced a solid 90 minutes all season. (We’ve been outstanding for periods but never a full 90)

      The stagnant side to side stuff Lennon hit us with is back and if teams press us we play panic football. If teams shut up shop we struggle to break them down.
      Teams that win in the final minutes of games can become champions but real winners only need to do that occasionally.

      We are miles away from being serious contenders in any European competition and I’m afraid that is how we must judge ourselves.

      Ange seems a great man manager and a massive improvement on Neil Lennon but I’m afraid he ain’t the tactical genius many think he is.

      Once again we are out of Europe with a whimper and the fact we have not won a knockout tie in god knows how long should be a source of shame to our great club.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    The only problem that I see is ,if we get beaten so easily in Europe’s third tier competition ,what is the hope we have of doing anything in the CL if we get there,the only good that will come out of it is we can stop Sevco getting the CL the pot of gold and hopefully if we get the money for qualifying we can invest in players who can compete in Europe because at present a lot of our team don’t seem to be at a level to play against even poor or mediocre teams ,never mind the big boys.

  • john clarke says:

    The CL is a worthy competition. The other two ..NO. It costs an enormous amount of money to fly a team (squad) plus followers around Europe and then add accommodation. No one cares or even knows who won the UEFA Europa League title in the year 2014 or whatever and the same will apply to the Conference title in a few years time. The bulk of the revenue to UEFA comes from TV rights. Most of the TV advertisement comes from betting companies. That’s bad. It may be included in the GDP of the UK and Euro countries but it produces nothing of lasting value and makes people poorer. The benefits of employment do not offset the misery betting causes. Looks like aviation fuel will be hitting the roof soon. As far as football goes “small is beautiful”. Go to the local club game (Celtic B or Celtic Firsts) and aways, with your affiliation group…sing a song or two…cheer your team, celebrate,…go home happy.

  • Brian Cavanagh says:

    Spot on James. Celtic need to be strategic- winning the league is the only priority everything else is the booby prize. And the league is the gateway to decent money, better plays and a higher standard of competition. Celtic fans crave that

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