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Celtic Fans Harking Back To The Days Of Seville Forget That We Won Nothing That Year.

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I cannot believe the debate that is raging in some places over when this Celtic side is going to start kicking on in Europe. Half of it is people looking across the city at the side who seem to have progressed on that stage but have won just a single trophy in ten years.

I look to ourselves for my own inspiration, and one season in particular; Seville.

There is one Hell of a lot of revisionism over that season.

It was not a success. We reached a European final, yes, and that was great and amazing. But we lost it. We also lost the league. We also lost the Scottish Cup. We also lost the League Cup.

Rangers won a domestic treble that season.

If that’s being used as the benchmark for what Celtic should aspire to in a “successful” campaign then count me out of it, because I remember an enormous feeling of pride in what we had done in reaching that final but it lasted about as long as it took for Rangers to get to Hampden and complete the clean sweep.

Am I saying we’d have won something if we hadn’t had split focus that year?

Probably we would have.

It was O’Neill’s only season without an honour, and it still pains me today.

It also has lessons in it for what we’re engaged in here.

Rangers got to their own European final just a few years later. They blew a much bigger league lead than we have right now trying to fit all the games in. They have warm memories of Manchester – wrecking the place mainly – but I wonder, honestly, how many of them would have traded it for the title that year, which we won on the last night?

Who amongst us would really have traded a big night in Tirana for a shot at our fifth treble in six years?

A lot of people apparently, based on some of the commentary today.

I think most of them are full of shit, and are just venting because the press is giving us stick whilst praising the mob across the road.

But I ask you, what’s new about the press giving us stick and blowing smoke up the collective arse of Ibrox?

It’s certainly nothing worth panicking over.

The manager took a different view of all this, and in spite of his protestations about wanting us to compete on all fronts, he knew this tie was won in the first leg and that only a full throated battle could have turned it around.

And he chose to focus on the weekend, and it showed in his team selection.

He knows what the priority is.

He knows what the goal is.

You can have European success on top of domestic success, but you have to get your domestic business done early.

If you’re going to focus on making an impact in Europe you need one of two things; 1) a squad of superstars or 2) the ability to make continental progress the over-arching goal.

We can’t afford a squad of superstars; that’s a reality which a lot of us faced up to years ago.

If we had a 20 point lead you might have seen a different Celtic over the two legs. If we’d had a 20-point lead going to Seville I think we’d have won that night. (I also think if John Hartson had been fit we’d have won that night.)

With a three-point lead and the most one-sided fixture list I’ve witnessed in my living memory, a new squad and a new manager, progress will be measured right here at home.

The same people screaming that we’ve not come far enough were, I’m willing to bet, the very same people who at the start of the season said they were willing to write the whole campaign off as Ange learning the ropes and putting his team into place.

(In contrast, myself and some others said winning the title should be an objective and not simply an aspiration.)

They have lost their grounding with reality; some of us have not.

Progress in Europe cannot come before getting the job done in Scotland, and we’re not over the line yet.

As glorious as the road to Seville was, it ended in defeat both at both home and abroad.

Ange is a strategic thinker, and that means putting the long-term goals first … and that means that the primary task is to make ourselves the best team in this country.

Let others imagine themselves European conquerors; their reward for it will be the same one we got in 2003.

A lot of praise, a lot of headlines but ultimately failure on every front.

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  • jrm63 says:

    A lot of hard questions need to be asked about 4-3-3 in Europe. Over 4 halves of football against Bodo we lost three goals in under 10 mins in 3 of the 4 halves. Sevco have advanced playing 4-2-3-1 and scored six goals over two games against a German side. Compare Jack and Lundstrum to Rogic and O’Riley. And that is with Aribo and Arfield in front of them. It is very clear that the 4-3-3 formation with the personnel we currently have is not going to give us a platform to succeed in Europe. I think that has been demonstrated all season. Teams are coming straight through us in the central midfield area
    We have been unsuccessful in Europe for 40 years, ever since George McCluskey missed a sitter in the Bernabeau. The main reason has been that lack of steel in the middle of the park. The one exception was O’Neill’s team. You may think Larsson, but the central pairing of Lambert and Lennon had a lot to do with that, even though I thought Lennon was deficient in terms of yardage covered, fitness and pace. If McCarthy and Soro cannot fill these roles then we need to replace them. But then we have to play them in domestic matches and keep them match ready. That means that some flair may have to be sacrificed. Alternatively, we can continue bleating about getting humped in European fixtures

  • Jim says:

    Totally agree with Sean here.

    The run to Seville was sheer magic and regained us respect in Europe.

    James you are right about this season and there was zilch chance of us overturning that result. They are a better team than us.

    But don’t over-generalise. A Scottish domestic honour is great but it doesn’t even come close to what we achieved getting to Seville.

  • Jim says:

    “Ever since George McCluskey missed a sitter in the Bernabeau”

    Scored a great goal against Ajax though, as I remember 🙂

  • BhilltheTim says:

    Also don’t forget that Rangers’ treble winning team.of 2003 was made up of ineligible players bought and paid with other people’s money and the proceeds of a tax scam.

  • jrm63 says:

    There was a great deal more at stake in the Bernabeau Jim

  • SSMPM says:

    Seville wasn’t just about the win. The qualifying rounds, the semi, the sombreros, beachballs flying around the midden and finally the experience of the Seville adventure, San Miguel, Spanish steak breakfasts, songs and senoritas. We set off from Benidorm, crashed the car, and luckily ended up getting on a Celtic supporters bus to Seville wi cracked ribs and a pie. The Porto fans were a pleasure, the weather was mental and the ref a nightmare.
    We should have won, if the league and cups were the sacrifice that’s fine, Henrik was KING and if that happened next season I’d sign up, on the proviso we win the league this year of course. HH

  • Aaron says:

    Gutted about last nyts result but let’s get sum perspective nobody thought with big turnaround in the squad that we had a hope off winning league never mind competing in Europe get cl money in for winning the league have a gud summer and look forward to competing better nxt season cmon the hoops

  • Roonsa says:

    Losing a Euorpean final or winning the League? If the League guarantees CL group stage cash that would otherwise be used to pay-off hun “investors”? James is right. We lost in Seville. Fuck the huns.

  • Johnbhoy says:

    I thought the Seville season was the best for many years and our wins in Blackburn and Liverpool were fantastic although as you say we won nothing.
    Remember Porto went on to win the Champions League the year after so it was a great effort to nearly beat them.
    We are so far away from that level just now it’s frightening and kudos is earned in Europe not winning the SPFL no matter how many times.
    Rangers beating Dortmund was a good result for them and ours unfortunately was disgraceful

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