Inexperience costs Celtic in Europe
Millions of Celtic fans woke this morning with that sinking feeling that has become far too common in the past few years. Celtic’s humiliating defeat at the hand of FC Utrecht was put simply so disastrous that the fans prayed for the same rain that had threatened to delay the game. This wasn’t a humping of St Mirren, or a shocker at Artmedia, it wasn’t even the embarassment at Clyde. It was so much worse.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, seemed to work for Celtic all night. The tactics, the players, the referee, the passing, the tackling and the mentality all seemed to be so far wrong that you wouldn’t be surprised to mistake Celtic for a junior U-15′s team. Celtic’s inability to string two passes together meant that the team never even looked like could carve a chance, never mind a shot on target, combined with every 50/50 going Utrecht’s way, Celtic were constantly chasing the match. Neil Lennon’s newly built side looked uncohesive which is to be expected considering there was a serious lack of European experience. But really what was most worrying was that our entire team looked devoid of any skill or ability, as if it had been sapped from them before kick off.
Yes, the two consecutive early penalties didn’t help but even at that point Celtic needed only a goal to put the match at rest, but with what can only be described as a lanky strain of pish upfront, Celtic never had a chance. Indeed, it took 81 minutes and a lame prod from Fortune before Celtic even recorded a shot on target. As for the bizarre substitutions of Juarez and Brown, Lennon showed huge inexperience on the night as he sat on the sidelines shell shocked.
But really, what else did we expect? Our most experienced player in Europe was Shaun Maloney, who has spent much of his career on the sidelines. The players brought in are all lacking of that and to be fair, they are young and untested at this level. Let’s not forget that all Celtic managers struggle notoriously in their first European campaign. It’s through defeats like this that the team can develop a mindset outside of SPL football that demands 100% concentration, simple football and being prepared to be under the kosh for the majority of the match. So for that, yes the players and manager are to blame but this is a recurring trend that we fans have had to put up with for too long.
£10 million pounds was made from Aiden McGeady’s sale but we have yet to see this materialise from the Celtic board (Make up for our Champions League exit?). And with news today that Anthony Stokes may sign, it seems our board have learnt nothing. Yes we have brought in some good looking players for the SPL but it’s only ever enough to just placate the fans. They said we needed experienced players, and we aimed for the likes of Bellamy, James and Campbell – all going elsewhere. We’ve yet to sign a big name player to galvanise the fans and squad, instead opting for a differing array of “projects” for nominal fees. This is understandable, but we need balance, we need an experienced star. Take out Robbie Keane from last season and then think – would we even have scored any goals?
Now we are out of Europe Celtic need to spend and not repeats mistakes of the past, a limited inexperienced team can only go so far. Players become good players because of the one of two great players around them, whether it be on the pitch or in training. We don’t have that, we just have a rag tag of potential for us to pin our ever critical and ludicrous hopes and expectations upon.