Football doesn’t always give you what you deserve.
In a single game you can fail to have any luck. There might be missed chances, opportunities that could have gone a different way.
Sometimes the best team doesn’t actually win.
But that same sentiment can’t be expressed when looking at a series of games. That’s the case for this season’s Celtic European campaign.
There are certainly positives. This includes lots of attacking and showing an willingness to challenge and compete at the top level. Real potential exists for future seasons.
But equally the group table doesn’t lie; completely out with a game to go.
A group where more was expected.
What have been the learning points from the campaign? Where have the problems been?
Some of it has been partly down to luck. Certain chances on another day would have gone in, transforming hopes in different games.
But that’s also happened too often to be just misfortune. So instead working on players’ composure and confidence in front of goal is a priority for next year.
That composure isn’t just about when shooting. Too often we have been the cause of our own downfall from weak passing or poorly planned set pieces.
Shakhtar’s goal at Parkhead was a clear example of this. A terrible free-kick left the defence exposed to a quick break, something which didn’t need to happen.
Defensively, we are predictable too. Most teams know that we are open on our defensive flanks and make use of diagonal balls to catch us out. A 4-2-4 formation (unless delivering multiple goals) isn’t likely to help us at the top level.
Europe probably isn’t the time for attacking experiments, unless it’s with a view to next season.
For instance, Kyogo and Giakoumakis clearly don’t fit well as a partnership.
The two forwards also pose a question of what our system is meant to be. Given their different styles which of them is preferred to make a Champions League impact?
And do other players fit with this?
Ange seems to want to play a system which puts a heavy emphasis on wingers. But neither Abada nor Maeda are natural wingers (based on a player who can beat a man and get in a cross), so change is needed there.
In many ways the European run has felt a lot like a Celtic game; a frenetic start, huge energy in the early stages, gradually dying out as the conclusion nears.
That sort of approach is fine if you take chances early on. But if you fail to do so then it can be a struggle later on.
None of this is fatal, if it leads to learning and development next year.
Ange winning last season’s title was ahead of schedule.
If we hadn’t done that then realistically the club wouldn’t have been in the Champions League.
In terms of European progress, 2023-24 is the season to judge Ange and Celtic. By then the manager will have had two years and five transfer windows so the team will undeniably be his own.
There are signs that we can do well, but only if the same mistakes not repeated.
And of course, we have to make sure we win the league so that we’re actually there to compete!
Matthew Marr is a regular contributor to this site. He tweets at @hailhailhistory.