Before the draw is even made, you would get long odds on Celtic even qualifying for the knockout stages from our Champions League group. The bookies will have as candidates for a spot at the bottom of whichever section we’re in.
This is a realistic assessment of where we are, and where we can expect to be.
The greatest danger to us, as a club, is in over-estimating our ability to finish anywhere else.
Even third place looks like a battle for which we are ridiculously outgunned.
One of the most lamentable features of Ibrox’s freak run to a final last season was the suggestion that it has raised the bar and that we must meet that. Seven wins in twenty-one games was their record.
We played fourteen games and won six, all of those wins in the same competition they were in.
We had a vastly tougher group than they did.
Neither their group nor ours was even remotely like the one we’re likely to end up in next.
The term Group of Death could be coined specially for us. There are no Super Clubs in the Europa League. The Champions League is their playground, and we’re the scrawny little kid who just walked into their bully’s version of Stalag Luft III and it is not wholly unreasonable to expect that we’re about to get our asses well and truly kicked.
Now here’s the thing. There are two ways you can handle a fight where you look absolutely over-matched. You can roll into a protective ball and hope that nothing breaks – which is a natural, and human instinct – or you can reason that doing so guarantees you a kicking and all the humiliation that goes with it, and so come out swinging.
Ange’s style is built on that aggressive approach, and if we’re going to get anything at all it’s going to be by leaning into that philosophy.
If he starts second guessing the strategy and changing it up, all we’re going to do is upset the balance of this team and the absolute doings are a certainty. If we play with eleven men behind the ball and try to defend we’re going to get routed and we will deserve everything that we get and more.
This squad is not built for that approach. It is built as an offensive, rather than as a defensive, unit.
We are going to go for it. We are going to go toe-to-toe with these hulking brutes and we’re going to swap punches with them, and all of Europe is going to watch it in disbelief and perhaps even awe. I do not expect us to shock the world but we will excite the footballing public and we will make our team talked about and respected whether we get results or not.
And you know, there are two ways we can look at that.
With a glass half full approach or a glass half empty one. Results will go some of the way to deciding that, but even then we need to take the rough with the smooth, and the roughs could be very rough indeed, but rather than be horrified by the experience we should try to feel exhilarated.
I am a realist. But even we are allowed to dream.
My head will be in the clouds, but I am going to try to remember where my feet are; firmly on the ground.
I just want Ange and these players to make us proud, to take our shot, to put on a show.
If you like the CelticBlog and especially our occasional forays into politics, pop culture and other stuff, then please like and share and follow our new site The Red Under The Bed, and give us some love on our Facebook page and on Twitter as well. Thanks in advance guys and gals.