Jackie McNamara surveys Celtic’s Champions Leagues woes

Former Celtic captain Jackie McNamara addressed the dismal Celtic showing in the Champions League this season, pointing out that it been worse than last season’s showing where Celtic finished the campaign under Ange Postecoglou with just two points to show for their efforts and plenty of hard luck stories around missed chances, leaving hope and even expectation that that campaign could be built upon this season.

Last time Celtic scored in all three away matches this we failed to hit the net in any of the three away trips to Rotterdam, Madrid and Rome. Chances created last season were plentiful, it was just that most were missed, this time around they were few and far between.

Speaking to the BBC’s Scottish Football Podcast McNamara pinpoints the problems his old club are having coping with Champions League football, highlighting specific areas within the team and stressing that Celtic not only have to be active and ambitious in the transfer market, starting in January, but also have to address the lack of homegrown stars coming through at the club.

A pathway to the Celtic first team should always be open and should there not be players coming though capable of making the breakthrough then questions must surely be asked about this failure which should be seen as a critical weakness at our football club.

Looking back on the shambles of a Champions League campaign where Celtic failed to score a single goal in the three away matches while conceding ten, Jackie McNamara outlined his thoughts on ways going wrong at Celtic.

“From the first game, I thought Lazio targeted certain areas to hurt Celtic. You could see what they were trying to achieve between Scales and Taylor a wee bit last night as well.

“In fairness to Scales, I think he’s come in and done reasonably well stepping up to that level coming from Ireland into Celtic’s first-team. It does take time, you just can’t jump into that level expecting everything to be great – he’ll get great experience from that,” McNamara said.

“But that is an area defensively they have struggled, there’s not a lot of backup at the left-back area. With Taylor, Bernabei has not pushed him. I know he’s (Brendan Rodgers) is missing one or two key players as well with Hatate and Maeda. They have got a lot of players on their books but they are not being used maybe because the manager doesn’t see them at that level.

“So I think they’ll need to try and change a few things in January and next summer if they’ve got aspirations to push a bit further in Europe. But realistically I think they need to grow it rather than buy it,” the former Celtic captain said.

“At home we were always strong with the fans backing but I do think there is few areas that they are lacking and it’s costing them. When you get these chances Chris Sutton, John Hartson and Larsson are going to take it.

“Even last year, Celtic were better to watch. They created five or six chances in a game and didn’t take them. You see it against Lazio with the quality they get a chance and take it. But if they can keep clean sheets and be defensively sound you have a chance of nicking something.”

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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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