It is always instructive, when you’ve been as good as we are today, to try and grasp why the opposition doesn’t believe you’re a good team. If you look at our domestic form for the last year it looks obvious that we’re a very good side, doesn’t it? When you watch us that becomes even clearer. So how can anyone possibly kid themselves?
The straw they clutch is our “European form.”
There is an audio clip of that absolute goon Keevins doing the rounds on their forums, lauding their European form and slamming ours. He repeated the old mantra of the “embarrassment” of us going out of three European competitions last season.
He talked in particular about “losing to a team from the Arctic Circle” as though this were a major humiliation.
His contempt for clubs in other countries about which he knows the sum total of nil continues to astonish me. His arrogance, when he is so absolutely thick, would blow your mind.
It’s tiresome having to debate this. It really bores me, because our European failure really boils down to those games more than anything else.
The Midjytlland result was nothing that we didn’t expect, a result not one of us acknowledges as anything to be in the least bit concerned about. This team was still being built. The team wasn’t even up to speed domestically.
But following our Champions League exit we stormed past two very decent sides to reach the Group Stages of the Europa League, and got a nightmarish draw for a side still in the process of growing. How did we do in that group? Three wins in six … and we gave Betis the scare of the century in Spain and could have got something in Germany.
And still we went out. I love how our critics never mention that we got more points in going out of the Europa League than their favourite club managed going through to the next round, which they did with a mere eight points to our nine.
Third place in the Europa League Groups drops you into the Conference League knock-out stages. We will most certainly not be the last side to do that, after also having fallen out of the Champions League. I continue to ask the question I always have;
If we had gone out of the Europa League entirely, thereby only getting knocked out of two European competitions instead of three, would that have been better? Would that have suited these people more? Would their narrative have been less bitter?
The puny weapons with which they try to assail us … honest to God. On top of everything else, if people inside Celtic prioritised the title over trying to progress in the third tier European tournament and chasing a pipedream of glory, then I can wholly understand that. Bodo were the shock troops of that tournament. They had beaten Roma 6-1 during the Groups.
They went on to knock AZ out. That team who annihilated Dundee Utd last week. Who we had earlier beaten comfortably. In the semi-final they beat Roma again, before the Italians (who went on to win the tournament) were finally able to get the best of them. It took Mourinho until his fourth attempt though, and he too lost twice along the way.
We won six times in Europe last season. And “went out of three competitions.” The Ibrox club won seven times and got to a final. It’s like a cosmic joke, and it is a statistic which the media is more than happy to roundly ignore.
The truth is, our European record was actually very decent last season for a team that was very much a work in progress. We are still a work in progress, but we’re so far forward compared to where we were that the truth is nobody knows what we might do this year. I do know that we are all excited to find out.
In the meantime, the deluded continue to tell themselves that how we’re doing in the domestic game, where leagues and cups are actually won, isn’t a reflection on how good we are as a team. That takes some doing.
It will be good to burst that fantasy bubble.