Celtic’s European Adventure To Come Is A Like Dark Road Through A Haunted Forest.

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Celtic takes its first ever step down a new road tomorrow.

We will play our first game in the Europa Conference League.

We know where the path leads; to Albania, of all place, where the President will surely roll out the red carpet for his favourite football team … but the road to get there is far more perilous and dangerous than it initially seems.

Think of Tirana and that final as a castle, looming on the horizon. To get there all we need to do is navigate a dense forest. If you could somehow levitate you could be standing outside the massive gates to that castle in just short of an hour. But the road through the forest has so many twists and turns that it’s going to take at least a day.

There is a pot of gold at the end of this adventure of course, but a modest one, and at some point during our trudge through those woods we are going to stop and consider whether the reward is worth the blood and treasure we need to expend if we’re going to get there.

Even the first step on that path is more treacherous than it seems … Bodo are no mugs, as Roma have already found out to their enormous and embarrassing cost.

Could we do it? Sure we could, if we threw everything at it. But even at a modest estimate, we’re ten games from that final. Where would we fit ten games into this schedule, and what would we have to sacrifice in order to do it?

Forget help from the governing bodies; that won’t be forthcoming. There will be no extension to the season for us, just a shrug and an expression of regret, the reward we get for being too good for our own good. For being capable of challenging on all fronts.

Every step of the way there will be danger. We’ll snag our arms on thorns. We’ll trip over roots growing right out of the road. Enemies will attack us from all sides. Even at our very best, we’re going to lose blood, we’re going to take wounds, we’re going to be done damage and every ounce of our strength will be needed just to navigate the journey.

It’s not inconceivable that this road leads to ruin. We might even get to the gates of the castle itself, only to find out that whilst we’ve been fighting our way through the thickets that the rest of our world has been burned to the ground. Is a Europa Conference League final place worth it if it’s the only prize – not even the trophy itself?

Where do we start to prioritise? And what should our priorities be?

Well, we know that there’s an even greater promised land in front of us for securing the title here at home. The glittering prizes of the Champions League final may not be something we can realistically hope to get to, but those roads are paved with gold all along the way and for every step we can stay on them we will do well for ourselves.

There is a certain attraction to betting big on our ability to go the distance this season, and I understand it just fine. But the risks are momentous, and we have to calculate whether they are worth the reward.

Would it be nice to have our name be the first on that trophy? Hell yes, of course it would. But are the odds in our favour, and what if we make it just to see Ibrox get that Champions League pot of gold instead of us? Still worth it?

These are the considerations we have to make, as we take our first bold steps onto this path. We know where it leads, and we’re pretty confident we can go the distance and not without good reason.

But those aren’t the only considerations.

Cold pragmatism might have to win out at some stage here, and so we have big decisions to make.

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  • David Cranston says:

    I enjoyed this particular column…good balance and thought provoking…well done…my opinion is if a trophy is there to be won..we need to go for it…things outwith our control are just that..other teams winning there games being the main one…we are flying just now and hopefully that momentum will carry us through to a league win and 2 more cups!!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    The SPFL all the way this season please Celtic…

    If we fall just short due to European endeavours and Sevco get whatever the automatic Champions League cash, their board will invest every penny back into the team to try to put their boots on our throats for years…

    Their directors love their tribute club far more than our lot love their 134 year old one…

    • Christina says:

      Agree 100% Clachnacuddin – they would spend every penny on bringing in the best players they could find – with the added attraction of CL football to offer this could be significant. They don’t have to worry about silly things like balance sheets and paying bills they have *cough* investors funding! They would seek to crush us and their lunatic fans would be unbearable. We must prioritise the league – the thought of any alternative is unthinkable!

    • Jake Hansen says:

      I think they’d take some of that money and put it back in their own accounts after dropping 100M over the past decade. They know that money is only a stopgap and cutting their cloth is the only way forward that doesn’t lead to Third Rangers. The fans may be mugs, but the directors aren’t.

  • Christina says:

    For me it is a no brainer- nothing, but nothing, should come before winning the league. The rewards for this are huge in every way. Obviously there is the money which would be a great advantage in our further recruitment to keep building our squad to be all we can be. Then there is the reward for players getting to play in the biggest tournament in club football- a massive incentive to test themselves against the best and add to their own development. This, in turn, is a very pertinent marketing tool to persuade players to come here so we can continue aforementioned squad building. Lastly, it would break the Ibrox tramps financially and psychologically! I have no doubt they would try to stumble on with their mysterious funding streams and help from authorities but it wouldn’t be pretty. Even the most deluded of them would start asking questions. * Wee bonus- we would also be saving our city from further reputational damage and cleaning up bills*

    • Jimmy says:

      Great post Christina. All in for the League for me as well. 110% effort towards the champions league.

  • David Condon says:

    Better off out of this tournament. The spl is the holy grail this year

  • Katana67 says:

    Enough of this NONSENSE….!!!!

    No more ‘Paradise’ tickets for the Orc-ish Rabble EVER AGAIN….!!!!

    If the Masonic PTB at AsbestosDome “cannot ensure security” for esteemed Sports Commentators, such as Chris Sutton, Neil Lennon, and Michael Stewart, why would Celtic PLC encourage a ‘token’ number of Celtic Fans to travel to such a venue…?

    Surely, they owe a ‘Duty-of-Care” to our Faithful Supporters….?

    And in this time of straitened financial circumstances for all ,(especially for Undead [2012] PLC ),
    less would need to be squandered on ‘enhanced security ‘ for these occasions.
    Celtic could even donate the savings to Mary’s Kitchens, in Memory of Brother Walfrid.

    Besides, 500-7000 ‘token’ Celtic fans would have no significant effect on the atmosphere at this ( ?structurally and environmentally ) hazardous venue, and their absence would not affect the performance of our Bold New Tiki-Taka Celtic.

    Top-Tips for our Superstars arriving at Mordor :-

    1/ Smart Identical Suits in Various Colours…..a là Reservoir Dogs.

    2/ ‘Aviators Shades..

    3/ All wearing Boots ‘Muffles’ Wax Earplugs, and each singing “We Don’t Care What the R*nkers Say..”, in whatever is their first drown out the hostile cacophony…


  • Pan says:

    Very thoughtful comments Christina.
    The SPFL is the main target this season, everything else is a bonus.
    Who knows what we can do, however.

  • jrrm63 says:

    The SPL is surely a clear priority. Yesterday you did a piece on how Celtic have the better part of 3 teams. I would play the likes of Barkas, Bolingoli, McCarthy, Ajeti etc. Go as far as you can and who knows someone might surprize you or use the opportunity to get match fitness. I do not think the manager will do it, but I think he should

  • Jim Duffy says:

    We need to win the league this year ,nothing else matters ,if we win the league ,chances are Sevco will go down the drain again and hopefully stay there this time.

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