‘A gut-wrenching disappointment and heart break. We must now fight back,’ David Potter

‘A bitter, bitter blow for Celtic and our massive worldwide support,’ David Potter…

Last night was a terrible experience, and although no-one could have seen it coming, it was somehow typical of Celtic in Europe over the past 40 years or so. Just when you think that have learned to defend, they throw it away by sheer naivety! And it is distressing that we had actually thought that our central defenders had matured this year!

But there was more to it than just poor defending. Edouard had one of his poorer games for the club, and his cause was not helped by the absence of Leigh Griffiths whom most supporters would have started with.

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In addition, after a spirited first half in which we were unlucky not to score, the second half saw the midfielders lose out time and time again, quite simply being second to the ball far too often.

There was some hard luck as well, at least one almost superhuman save by the Danish goalkeeper and a few odd refereeing decisions, but apart from that, it is difficult to make excuses for what was simply a sub-standard performance. Callum McGregor earned pass marks, but has played a lot better, Elyounoussi and Rogic both had creditable first halves but then faded disturbingly, Scott Brown looked as if he were not 100% fit, and James Forrest really has to take the proverbial “long hard look at himself”, sharing the mirror with Edouard, Simunovic and Jullien.

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It was so frustrating to get back into the game through the much-maligned VAR, and then almost immediately to throw it all away again.

Neil Lennon talks about “game management skills”. They were sadly lacking here, for immediately after the penalty had been scored with the huge crowd in an uproar of excitement, the game was surely there for the winning.

Sadly the self-destruct button had to be pressed, and seldom have a seen such a quiet Celtic crowd. It was an awful experience, and one just has to hope that the players have some inkling of the agonies that the support is going through this morning after yet another “blowing up” in Europe. One hopes that they are hurting just as much as the supporters are.

By the time we got to the bus, we had begun to rationalise saying things like “you have to lose sometime”, “it’s the first defeat since the New Year”, and “if you are going to lose any tournament, make sure it is the Europa League”.

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I suppose there is a certain truth in all this, but it is still a bitter, bitter blow for Celtic and our massive worldwide support. The only positive I can come up with however is “no more Thursday nights”. And no fixture pile-up. We now have loads of empty midweeks! And we won’t go any place where we can pick up the Corona Virus! But that is what is called clutching at straws!

In theory what happens the night before in a different country involving our rivals shouldn’t really have anything to do with Celtic’s performance – but we all know that it does.

Whether anyone is prepared to admit it or not, the Rangers did indeed play their part in Celtic’s defeat. We were depressed about Wednesday night, the Press made sure that we were overwhelmed by rubbish about how good the Rangers were … and we certainly carried our depression with us to Celtic Park last night. I know it shouldn’t happen… but it certainly does.

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It follows as well that we have now lost a little momentum, and it will be a severe test of Neil Lennon and John Kennedy. There must be no spill-over into the domestic competitions.

Often in the past, a defeat can become infectious and lead to another defeat or two.
This must not be allowed the happen here.

A defeat to St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup on Sunday means no Quadruple Treble, and although we are ahead by some considerable distance in the League, the finishing line is still a long way away, Ryan Christie should be available on Sunday, I think. That might make a difference.

We have suffered a gut-wrenching disappointment and heart break. We must now fight back. 13 games remain in our season. Let’s win them all.

David Potter

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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