It’s Frustration, Not Despair, Which Celtic Fans Will Take From This European Run.

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Coming out of Celtic Park last night I realised, as I thought about how the Group table would look, that I felt none of the emotions that must assail the fans across the city when they ponder what their own might look like at the end of this campaign.

Nobody wants to be the butt of every joke in European football.

And nobody wants to have nothing at the end of a European run but a hard-luck story, far less one that depends on a shaky narrative and possibly even a dishonest foundation.

I wrote earlier about Robbie Neilson and his utter failure to give us an ounce of credit. It is only natural that we ponder, in fact, the question as to whether we’re all engaged in a Robbie Neilson style delusion when we look back at what we’ve seen.

First, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

Indeed, those on the other side of this argument – like Leckie, that worm who writes for the paper that shall not be named and whose article this morning was spiteful, abysmally written trash – are the ones in the minority here.

They might think we were simply outplayed and overmatched but we’ve seen examples of that in years gone by and we know what the difference is.

Secondly, the stats don’t lie.

Only a handful of teams in the tournament have created as many outright chances as we have. Poor finishing has done for us here. That’s the truth of it. That’s the fact that some people simply do not want to face up to.

Take last night; they all want to talk about the Ukrainian team’s horror miss; it’s only the post that keeps out Giakoumakis’ late effort or it might have been us who got the three points.

Third, there’s the evidence of our own eyes.

We know that fine margins are what separate a lot of the teams at this level, and as time goes by we’ll get there. We’ve all seen progress has been made, we’ve all watched as we’ve played well in these games.

Ange is right about that. This team just needs greater exposure to this stage, and that will come.

It is painful being out of Europe before Christmas. This is not the scenario any of us envisaged when this Group kicked off. We knew we were going to have a difficult start, but other than the performance at home against the Germans – which came way short of where we want to be – we’ve played well enough for it to be recognisable.

I have seen European campaigns which were truly catastrophic.

This never felt at any point like it was going to be one of them. On the contrary, the frustration comes from knowing that we were much closer to a good competition than the table suggests.

There are moments we will replay in our heads over and over again and ask what might have been; the simple answer is that we’ll never know and it will be next year before we get the chance to put it right.

The important thing now is that we recognise the steps we’ve taken in the right direction and continue to have faith in the process, in the manager and in the style he wants us to play.

There is no evidence that a more pragmatic approach would have borne fruit and in fact, I strongly suspect that it would have led to exactly the deep sense of having been disgraced here that those across town will be grappling with when this evening’s game draws to a close.

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  • Derek Mcwhinnie says:

    We stuck to our philosophy and came up a wee bit short
    Rather have watched that than parking the bus and getting humiliated

  • S Thomas says:

    Real disappointment.. is how I’d describe it really. I’m going to madrid, and I genuinely thought before the group stage started, that wee should be aiming for third place at least. To finish bottom, is a real disappointment. We have played some nice stuff at times, but our strikers have been really poor, and off the boil, and that’s what knackered us. Hopefully we use this disappointment to good affect, going forward. I think we are at least 4 players short, at the moment. Hopefully we can qualify next season, and give a better account of ourselves.

  • Frankie says:

    A true statement James, their is a lot of our own fans not happy , do they not think there is enough clowns having a go at us without our own doing it as well back our club.

  • Pcelt says:

    Get real,it’s time to admit we are nowhere near good enough to compete at this level,how many chances did Madrid and Leipzig make,even Shacktar created better clear cut chances than us,we would be lucky to compete in the europa league,we got well beat in Europe last season and have learnt nothing from that.

  • Pcelt says:

    We learnt nothing from last season in Europe and will learn nothing from this season,we need to realise we are years away from this level of football and need to admit it.

  • Martin H. says:

    We can hold our heads up, we don’t defend we attack that’s what we do, and that’s the way we want our teams to play, but Ange knows our problems, and he will get it sorted.

  • Harry Robertson says:

    We were unlucky to have injuries to to two of our most influential players in callum mcgregor and jota I’ve watched us in Europe since the early sixties were in a good place

  • Bennybhoy57 says:

    Walking out the stadium on Tuesday was really proud of our support, you could see the frustration and disappointment in their faces , unlike old firm Fc , they knew we have come along way from last season and have been unfortunate with missed chances in all the games.
    Great to see the majority of fans still in the stadium to acknowledge and applaud their efforts.

  • Jack says:

    I think we’re on the right track. We just need our strikers to be more ruthless with the chances we create. Someone like the King of Kings would be most welcome, but unfortunately he was a one off. Hate to admit this, but someone (Carter Vickers perhaps) should have taken that Moydrik guy out when he broke away for their goal. He should not have got that shot away. I expect it was not that easy though.

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