Celtic’s Absolute Minimum European Football Requirement – David Potter

Ange Postecoglou is, of course, right to insist that we take one game at a time. How I loved his comment last week that “this will all count for nothing if we don’t beat St Mirren”! St Mirren remain the only team in Scotland who have got the better of us, and we would be foolish if we were to take them lightly. Chickens must not be counted.

And I hope that after our (hopefully successful) visit to Paisley, he will be saying that Hearts are now the most important team in the world… and so on. It is a policy that has served us well in the past, as the burgeoning trophy room would tend to indicate.

At the same time, Ange and the supporters would be less than human if they did not allow their attention to stray to the long term and medium term, and in particular, next year’s campaign in Europe. It is not yet clear just exactly what our next European campaign will look like, and it will not be clear for some time, but it is already time to start working so that we can minimise statements from England and elsewhere along the lines of “Celtic are OK in Scotland, but once they have to step up a gear….” or “Why does a club with such a huge support for European games, not play in a manner that is worthy of them?”

To a point, but only to a point, can we plead poverty in that we cannot afford the really top players. There are other factors, and factors that we can do something about. One is team spirit and here we surely do well, for there is no lack of current and recently departed players who tell us how much they love us. Let us keep it that way. It is a factor that has to be taken into account when we recruit for the new season. We must have players prepared to play for us until they drop!

But often, it has seemed to me, Celtic’s lack of success in Europe has stemmed from the actual games themselves. Basic mistakes like not marking a dangerous opponent, being caught out of position, misplaced passes, getting a needless yellow card and the missing of chances, often bizarrely described as “gilt edged” (what on earth does that mean?), have all contributed to out downfall.

It is true that you will possibly get off with a mistake in Scotland, but you will be punished in Europe, but let us try not to make such mistakes in the first place. There is little doubt that we have players who can do well in Europe. Their opportunity is now approaching.

It is so vital for the club’s world wide esteem that we re-establish our European credentials. We are of course former winners, have reached the final on another occasion, and the semi final on another two occasions in the European Cup – but all that was in the 1960s and 1970s. We reached the final of the UEFA Cup in 2003, and have had the odd isolated success against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United, but generally speaking, our European record has been a disgrace.

It is time that we put an end to all this. Playing in Europe after the New Year should be looked upon as the absolute minimum.

David Potter

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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