As Celtic and FC Midtjylland fought for the win that would progress their Champions League hopes to another round it was reminiscent of two bald fellas fighting over a comb. No matter who qualified last night they’d have no use for the victory as neither side would have progressed beyond this battle of two clubs in a state of on field transition. In the end it took extra time for the Danes to grab that comb from tired Celtic fingers and now, as Celtic would have done, they’ll exit to PSV in the next round.
At least however Midtjylland have the safety net of automatic Europa League qualification, Celtic meanwhile will have to face and defeat Jablonec of the Czech Republic if they are toreach UEFA’s version of the Consolation Cup. There is another UEFA trophy to play for if we fall against Jablonec but competing in the Duffer’s Cup – or Conference League as it is catchily titled – would just be too embarrassing to consider.
It is difficult to have a lot of confidence in Celtic progressing from the Europa League qualification route either, and in truth as much as the finances are vital to Celtic in a post pandemic financial landscape – and a squad in need of quality and expensive reinforcements – it is far from a priority, a distraction even, from the perspective of Ange Postecoglou trying to get his playing philosophy to a group of players, who are in the main honest triers but still infiltrated by experienced players whose heart is not in playing any part of an on field revolution.
Celtic’s exit was delayed by extra time last night, it was rumoured the flight home was also held on the tarmac until Erik Sviatchenko turned up at the check in desk and returned Odsonne Edouard from his back pocket. If Brighton are indeed interested in our star striker, we can only hope their CEO doesn’t subscribe to Premier Sports otherwise he may well seek reassurances from his scouting team that the guy they are due to pay £20million for is value for money.
The sad truth of that deal is Edouard is worth £20million, in fact he’s worth a lot more than that but he’s simply not showing it consistently in a Celtic shirt anymore and the worry now is if a deal isn’t concluded an inconsistent and unhappy Edouard remains at Celtic and signs a pre-contract somewhere in January, if we think Edouard is off the boil now, wait until he’s running down his notice period and playing solitaire on his lap top every day.
Of course, a sense of perspective is very much required when it comes to another embarrassing exit from Europe’s top table. The Celtic Board shoulder the blame for this one and change had already been delayed by indecision and inaction for an inordinate period of time prior to the appointment of Ange Postecoglou. Indeed, it’s a shame there is not a dithering route into European competition as the Celtic Board would have that one qualified for with some ease. But in truth there is little point in raking over those coals again. We are where we are and now, we are going to have to build from here.
As Ange Postecoglou rebuilds a squad, Dominic McKay has to create a footballing environment to support it. Having lost one of our best players to Brentford we’ve now exited Champions league qualifiers –in July – to the West London outfit’s feeder club. The golden thread running between those two organisations is a strong statistical model used to identify players, staff and of course marginal gains over more powerful rivals.
Celtic will have to discard the old school approach of selling in May and buying by the end of August and add some modern thinking to their approach – less agent recommendations, more algorithms.
McKay has already indicated he’s keen to learn from clubs outperforming in their respective environments, visits to West London and Jutland would be a good starting point, stop offs at Sevilla and Groningen may also be worth some time.
And when it comes to time, we as a support are going to have to accept this turnaround and modernisation of a football club is going to take a lot of it before we get back to where we should be. It may not necessarily get any worse than last season’s debacle but we have to realise that disastrous season was a culmination of a lack of embracing change as modern football hurtled at a rate of knots through its version of the industrial revolution. And whilst some clubs, much smaller than ours, are outperforming by using modern technologies in the work place, Celtic remain behind the curve, more ink quill than Surface Pro.
Dominic McKay has a recent history of success in modernising stale organisations, if he can drag the SRU and its member’s club approach to Rugby into the modern day, he can certainly do so at Celtic but we need to realise all of this will take time and as a support we need to exhibit a level of patience we’re not renowned for in recent times.
There will be next to no fans who pass any residual blame for exiting the Champions league to Ange Postecoglou, there should be few who blame the majority, with the odd key exception, of the playing squad either. There is already evidence many are improving simply by having some up-to-date coaching methods and a modern tactical approach offered to them – particularly in comparison to what they were receiving last season – as such they will get even better as their new coach gets time to work with them and as new faces bolster the squad.
Dominic McKay will also require a separation from the Board he sits on. He is not tarnished by the sins of that group even now he is part of it. We also need to realise he is probably our only hope of dragging the rest of them into this century.
Last night Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League by a club younger than Greg Taylor, that club is also in the midst of on-field transition also but off it it’s streets ahead of Celtic.
The job we have ahead to rebuild the football squad is dwarfed by the task in modernising the structure to support it. If it is to be done, we need to afford the time and the patience to the new men we have in post.
Apportioning blame can be somewhat therapeutic, but in truth those responsible for where Celtic find themselves are either gone now or not listening anyway. Those who have recently arrived we can at least have hope know what they are doing and will have a plan to implement it. They’ll need all our backing and our patience to get it right.