Ibrox Can Get The Occasional Good Euro Result, But They Failed The One That Mattered.
As the Scottish football commentariat wets its pants over a “sensational” European result last night, mad fantasies abound of their team going all the way. Forgive me if I laugh into my beer. Their victory covers a multitude of other issues which the media doesn’t even want to talk about.
Let’s not forget, shall we, that this Euro campaign of theirs opened with their losing the tie that really mattered this season, the Champions League qualifier, when they were dispatched neatly by Malmo home and away. They lost at Ibrox against a team that had only ten men on the park. That was the one they had to win … and they didn’t.
Their Europa League campaign wasn’t much better. They qualified from the group with two wins out of six and eight points; we went out with three wins and nine points in a far tougher section with teams from Spain and Germany. I am not impressed by their exploits in these competitions thus far, even if the press today hails them as world beaters.
The press would love you to forget all that, to forget that Ibrox’s procession through Europe hasn’t exactly been seamless. They want to focus on the “success” now that they’ve beaten Dortmund. I think it’s a shocker of a result and one that will have repercussions for the Bundesliga side. I am actually astonished that they lost over two legs.
But my astonishment does not translate into an over-estimation of Ibrox’s victory nor any sense of panic or envy. European football is an adventure which this season I will not miss. I was not by any stretch of the imagination “desperate” to see them go through as the idiotic Ricky Foster was at great pains to suggest, but nor am I stupid and see an extended run for them as something that is potentially useful to us in this title race.
Their celebrations will be short-lived if we extend our lead this weekend, or if they return from Belgrade exhausted and with injuries and the clock on this title race ticking down. Europe is a sideshow this season, with that £40 million on the table for the champions. That pot of gold was what they were after when this season kicked off, but they had qualifiers to navigate to get it and in spite of the honey being poured on them tonight they failed spectacularly.
Under no pressure, and the weight of zero expectations they secured a place in the next round. But when it really, really mattered in Europe this year they were found wanting. The press may not want to remind us all of that, but we know how impactful that early exit was and how disastrous it may yet prove to be for them.