Celtic Fans Should Not Even Entertain This Guff Over European “Bragging Rights”.

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Last night, the Ibrox club topped their Europa League group. Considering the “quality” – I use that in the loosest possible sense – of it I would have expected us to do the same and I would have been damned pissed off if we hadn’t. I would have raged about us being unable to beat a team from Cyprus home or away in it.

Betis, what can you even say about them? They played an awful lot like a side who knew they had a better shot at winning the Europa Conference League, and I don’t say that for nothing. At half time I took a look at that tournament. It wasn’t pretty.

For the next wee while we are going to have to suffer the interminable boredom of reading garbage comparing our “European record” and theirs. Dire stuff. I want no part of it, and no Celtic fan should even entertain this nonsense.

Let me put this in terms that will cut through the media’s reportage.

Say you were a university educated graduate who grafted his way to 2.1 honours degree.

Would you really be expected to sit and listen to a guy bragging that he’d bested you because he got a 92% in his evening class? Don’t get me wrong, that’s a damned fine score … but it’s levels below the one on which you’re being graded, and so the debate would be ridiculous.

We can only compare records here by examining their performance on the stage we were just on, and the simple fact is that they got zero points in six games last year and were annihilated by a PSV team which didn’t even see them in the road in the qualifiers in this one. That’s the only means of comparing us. That’s the only way to make it fair.

But let’s go further than that. Let’s go back two years, to their run to the final in the Europa League, which I said at the time was a mad fluke and should offer no indication as to how they would do on the bigger stage, if they made it, the following year.

They won seven matches out of twenty one games. They finished their Group with eight points.

We finished ours with nine. And we went out.

That’s our record the last time we played in this tournament, in a group which included Betis, who we beat at home just as they did.

Our group also included Bayern Leverkusen and Ferencvaros. That’s a superior group to the one they topped last night and so our performance was more than creditable.

But do we get credit for that? No because we went out, so of course we don’t. Instead, we got stick for dropping into European football’s basement.

Nobody cared that after exiting the Champions League we’d done damn well just to get Europa League Group football in having to play two tricky qualifiers before Ange even had his team bedded in, and then to take nine points from the Group? That was a minor miracle.

And then we came across Bodo in the Conference, and they comfortably took care of us, but they’d also comfortably beaten Roma in the Groups including giving them a 7-0 hiding.

Was any of that taken into account? Hell, no.

When it was clear last night that Sparta were going to win easily, and Ibrox’s path had been narrowed to two possibilities, I knew it would be hard to stomach, seeing them go through.

But I knew something else; if the drop between the Champions League and the Europa League is a big one, the drop from the Europa League to the Conference is even more dramatic.

Fiorentina, Ajax and Aston Villa look to be the best teams in that tournament.

Them and Real Betis, who have gone from looking like being a team who would have been satisfied with a Europa League quarter final spot to being potential winners of the third-tier competition. Ajax only made the Conference at all by the skin of their teeth.

And so when you consider that of the four, only Villa looks like a genuine contender, what do you conclude except that the club from Ibrox could have done far better in that sort of company than they look likely to do still surrounded by Liverpool, Roma, Milan, Atalanta, Sporting Lisbon, Leverkusen and others.

I am not tearing my hair out here.

But as far as the Europa League Groups go, that competition is far, far easier than the one we’re being judged in, and the only way for us ever to demonstrate that would take a disaster.

It would take either Scottish clubs losing their automatic place in the Groups and us suffering a real shock reversal in a qualifier and not getting through … or us surrendering the league title and it not even really being an issue because only one Scottish club is in the top tournament anyway.

If you are expecting a fair crack from this media, you are never going to get one. Betis were a mid-table team at best last year literally; there were five Spanish teams in this season’s Champions League. Four of them are in the next round. Sevilla, they’re out completely. Sevilla.

The Europa League specialists, out along with – need I do this? – Manchester United, Newcastle, Union Berlin, RB Salzburg, Galatasaray, Antwerp and ourselves.

That’s the Champions League, that’s a different planet from the one Ibrox was scurrying around on last night and so I am genuinely unimpressed for all the reasons I’ve talked about before.

And I don’t want to be judged by Europa League standards, because as I said, I would regard our participation in the Groups of that tournament as a calamity and I would not welcome it if it was offered to us just on the off-chance of some fancy headlines (which we damned well wouldn’t get).

The money is less. The company is not as sharp, but still sharp enough to turn out your lights out once you get past the Groups … it’s not for me.

I’ll take us being graded with the big boys, even if the report cards don’t shine, because that’s what we earn when we win a Scottish title, that’s one of the things we play for, and to wish to be somewhere else and to wish to be graded on that lesser scale, that’s a disservice to us, that dishonours what our club should want to be … maybe not what we are but what we should, with better and more focussed leadership, want to be.

This bragging rights argument is pointless and stupid. Let them brag. It’s an empty boast. At the end of this season, if we’ve won this title, that’s all anyone will care about.

We got our points the other night, we got a major monkey off our backs and we should be feeling pretty good about that. Ibrox has once again lost itself in euphoria. They think this is their year, they think they see the sunny uplands. But we’ve heard this record before … and we know how it ends.

As long as we do our job right, as long as people at our club take seriously this moment that we’ve come to, we will have the final word. That every single one of us is well aware that the destination of this title is going to come down to what we do rather than anything they do tells you where the power still lies.

Do not forget that over the next fortnight.

We’ll get our chance to show them at the end of this month. Until then, do not engage in their silly ass debate. It’s weak and its pathetic and its beneath you.

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  • Roonsa says:

    I don’t care about European bragging rights. They got a good result last night and that was fair enough. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say they got an excellent result. And, to be honest James, I am not buying your sales pitch of Betis wanting to play in the Conference. Football teams just don’t that.

    However, when I look at the teams who are going into the knockout stages, do I give them any chance of doing what they did a couple of years ago by getting to the Final? Nope. Not a chance. I think Liverpool are a stick-on to win that trophy although Villa will give them a good fight if they play each other. As would Brighton. As would West Ham.

    I hope they get a good draw for the next round, one they would fancy winning. I am quite happy for them to plough a lone furrow for Scotland in Europe whilst Celtic get on with the job of securing the SPFL and, hopefully, the Scottish Cup. All the distractions that keep them and their media pals happy whilst we do that are all good by me.

    • Effarr says:

      The only problem is that when they went to the final a couple of years ago they were still the fittest team when they played Celtic. Bassey and McGregor played as if they were on someth…., sorry, as if they was superhuman.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    All ye have tae remember is 2003, when we became the 1st Scottish team in 20 years tae reach a European final. That lot (through sheer jealousy of course), absolutely trashed and slagged the competition off as a ‘joke’ Euro tournament. When they got there 7 years later and again in the last 2 years, it’s suddenly a ‘magnificent achievement’ and they were even tryin tae compare it with the Lions 67. Absolutely says it all where that lot are concerned.

    • Captain Swing says:

      I know it’s hard to believe now, but Seville in 2003 wasn’t the first Scottish team to reach a European final for 20 years – Dundee United played in the UEFA Cup Final in 1987. Beat Barcelona and Borussia Munchengladbach en route. Quite big news at the time, although the Scottish football press of the era were too busy creaming themselves over Souness at the time to give their achievements the attention it deserved.

  • goodghuy says:

    I actually disagree james.. I think I’d actually rather be in the Europa league now as the champions league yes, it has the glitz and glammer, but it’s extremely hard to get a win in it. The Europa league has some decent teams left in it now, and I think I’d rather be in that now. The champions league in the Gordon Strathan, Martin O’Neill days were excellent, but now they only good thing about it is getting the money as it’s so hard too compete with the teams in it due too the spending potential of the big teams. I’ll grudgingly give them there due last night, that was a good result, as it’s hard to get a win in Spain. I also have to say Aberdeen got a terrific result as well.

    • Jimmy Mon says:

      Well said but Betis were atrocious that second half, like they’d nothing to play for after their first couple of efforts didn’t go in, though how that half baked Hun team keeps pulling quality results like that out the bag is something beyond all manner of comprehension.

      Do they practice voodoo rituals before the games or does the ever malignant Campbell Ogilvie wield some creepy overarching Masonic influence at UEFA?

      They’ve been having these incredible results home and away in that competition for YEARS now and it’s getting beyond the pale.

  • Martin says:

    Last time we played Betis in Sevilla we also scored 3. Just saying. I actually credit the sevconians for that result last night. I didn’t expect them to get 3 goals with their style of play. They were outplayed and got lucky with 1 penalty call (the first one re Goldson handball absolutely wasn’t) and Betis hit every part of the woodwork… But they won. If we had half their luck in European games we’d be last 8 in CL every 5 or so years…

    But they earned their place in the next stages. They could get a very lucky draw and get to a final again, which brings me onyo my main point. Our failure is NOT that we can’t get through the CL groups… The gulf is such that if we did it would be an anomaly. Our failure is an inability to get 3rd spot and drop into a EL where a pretty straightforward path to the final is actually a possibility nearly half the time. Our board ignores European ambition because they (rightly) see progression through the CL as unlikely, and the group prize money as more important. But if they had half a brain they’d plan for qualification, then 3rd place finish and a Europa league run. Fans would be happier and we’d be better off because of the win bonuses and the EL money as we progressed. It sickens me they don’t think this way.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    My mistake, not 20, 16 years. Forgettin Dundee utd in 87.

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    Why try and make out they where lucky they beat them home and away and won the group so I would say job done.We would be well pleased if we could have done this in the Europa so no sour grapes they have not lost a match yet since Clement took over so they are going to give us a game come 30th so we need to be back to our best or they will be hard to stop and if they win on Sunday even more .

  • Eldraco says:

    Mate am not entertaining them either, nor am i entertaining you trying to upramp celtic in europe, wont have it.

    Fact is they win in europe and we dont that game for them was meant to see them drop to conference football and look at what happens.

    It was a good result they win somehow in europe. We now need to secure that league and belt them silly at paradise.

    The board done us and i reckon brenda has all but chucked it. if the league goes then you better back track on the GB coz ur not getting shot of the board without them .

    • James Forrest says:

      First, I’m not backtracking on anything. If the club and The Green Brigade come to some agreement, good for them, but it’ll be on the club’s terms. If not, I’ll support the club in keeping them locked outside no matter what.

      And if you think I’m doing any such thing as “upramping Celtic in Europe” you’ve pulled that out of your own arse. I’m doing no such thing. I’m simply pointing out the fact – THE FACT – that we are playing on a much bigger stage than they are and I want us JUDGED AT THAT LEVEL rather than being compared to what they’ve done in a lesser league.

      • Eldraco says:

        Not out my arse james and behave yourself if someone disagrees ffs.

        Base it on performance. We simply dont perform and need better players, you want to tell brendan he is pulling THAT out his arse?!

  • Effarr says:

    At the start of the CL we knew that Celtic`s best bet was to finish third and then drop into the EL. We would all have been over the moon if that had happened, so it is a bit churlish to start denigrating the EL now that they got a decent result last night, although I thought Betis weren`t much better than Livingston It is a bit of a joke that Celtic spent around four months flirting and farting around with Eddie Howe before they hit a bit of passing luck while THEY, supposedly, did a panic managerial appointment and finished up with someone who out-gunned Pellegrini last night and will probably be more loyal than the
    not-so-jolly flyman was.

  • Effarr says:

    Maybe it`s time to completely ignore what is going on over there and even in the media and get on with concentrating on other news. We`re beginning to look like stalkers or peeping Tims. What about a wee story called The Lives of the Saints, Mirren and Johnstone? It would be a wee change from the fairy-tales emanating from the “reliable sources” from the Blue Room and Shirebrook, all of which were in the mind and all of which came to nothing.
    Just TOTALLY IGNORE them: it`s the only way to annoy them. Don`t let them know what we are thinking, let them go mad guessing. Otherwise, they will carry on laughing up their sleeves. Obsession can become a dangerous thing, mentally damaging even.

    • James Forrest says:

      No I’m not totally ignoring them, and the suggestion is stupid.

      It was “totally ignoring them” that led to our club being royally grafted post 2011.

      Never again. Not whilst the bloggers are watching.

      • Effarr says:

        Well, let Celtic worry about being “royally grafted”. If they`re happy with that then so be it. It is a lot more stupid for someone who has absolutely no power or influence to change things to be wasting precious time and temper on something as unimportant, when you take it into perspective, as a football match. You are very fortunate indeed if you have nothing else to worry about. Personally, I was more concerned about what the old R4ngers did because I and the members of my family who had season tickets at the time were the ones who really were “royally grafted” as well as severely shafted. However, we took POSITIVE ACTION by cancelling the tickets on renewal rather than waste time pi33ing against the wind. As for the “bloggers”, to be honest, nobody gives a …………

  • Captain Swing says:

    Are you suggesting there’s a touch of Only Fools And Huns to their euphoria?

    ….. “this time next year Billy, we’ll be millionaires!”

  • Johnno says:

    There is only one FACT that the scum have and will remain as having, so the bragging rights remains there’s and there’s only.
    “Worst team to ever play in the CL in its current format ”
    That FACT won’t be changing any time soon, if ever.
    “No surrender ” my hole, to cowardly to even take part in the elite of European football.
    It requires success from Celtic just to enter that competition, another FACT, the scum get into it upon the back of failure, that is the difference which is also a FACT?
    Is that really the type of club our support would be happy to rejoice about?
    Not for me anyway, where I want to take the challenges faced head on, instead of hiding in the lesser competition, which requires failure to walk into it, or success to a degree to even take part in it?
    The scum remains as having some amount of luck within European football, we suffer from getting none, happens in football, but to the same degree as ourselves compared to the scum?
    This league title remains the main focus for ourselves this season, especially with the importance of it, that hasn’t changed?
    The focus has to only remain upon ourselves, and what we do, nothing else really matters imo?
    Was expected to hear some amount of shite talk from the scum and aided by its scum cheerleaders?
    But behind all the shite talk is nothing more than jealousy as they are nowhere near the club we are regarding success, and prepared to face the challenges involved at CL level?
    We always could follow suit and gloat about surrendering and cowardly to scared to face the challenge, as the weakest ever to face up to the challenge?
    Those are the bragging rights of the scum in a nutshell, which remains as FACTS for evermore and the scum are welcome to them, I say?

  • John Kennedy says:

    And yet here you are “entertaining” the guff. I love the bigot brothers, they are so entertaining without even meaning it. Someone from either set of supporters with a 2.1? Comedy gold. Rarer than hens teeth – could have made a comment about rarer than a bigot brothers suppirte4s teeth but that would have been unnecessarily cruel. Comments like “a set of teeth like a burnt out village” have no place in football regardless of how factual or appropriate so I shall desist. Not sure how this article appeared on my page as have no time for either half of the nanky mob but thank you for brightening up my morning with your inadvertent humour.

    • James Forrest says:

      The kind of pig ignorant rubbish I’d have expected to read on an Ibrox fan site.

      Do you even KNOW how much like one of them you sound?

      Every bit of that reeked of bigotry. Every bit. You are EXACTLY what you profess to hate you utter eejit.

      For the record, 2.1 Hnrs graduate right here. Dickhead.

  • Davie says:

    The Rangers did their job and got through, so let that rest.
    Concentrate more on Celtic under Lawell & Rodgers again.
    We have gone backwards rapidly.
    The project signings are lost money again.
    Who scouts these players?
    Who signs these players?
    What standard’s are they measured against?

    Problem positions that were known before the summer were never addressed.

    There is a serious lack of height and physical strength in the team, none of that was addressed.
    3 good players could help turn the corner, but in January all you get is unwanted players being offloaded.
    Firstly I blame Lawell for dung signings.
    Next I blame the team mgr and coaching staff, all have failed, Rodgers has ruined the team.
    Lastly some players are not fit to wear the Jersey.
    Time for change again, Lawell & Rodgers must go permanently or change will not happen.

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