CELTIC crashed out of Europe with a 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic as the unholy trinity of individual errors, poor defending and little creativity reared their heads in the early kick-off.
The Celtic Board have a decision to make but so much more is expected from the players and staff at the club.
However, with that in mind, there was a positive result happening elsewhere that could help the charge for 10IAR. As the dejected Celtic team were on the plane ruminating over their hellish 90 minutes in Prague, a result went their way back in Glasgow.
Rangers conceded two goals to Benfica, surrendering a two goal lead. The Liga Nos side are third in the league, seven points adrift of Sporting Lisbon but they fought back from a goal down to keep their qualification dreams up and running. Now Rangers sit joint top with two games remaining – a trip to Poland and the visit to Ibrox of Standard Liege two games that they need to win in order to seal top spot and Europe beyond Christmas.
With this in mind, Scotland’s coefficient will receive a boost but this isn’t the benefit to Celtic. The fact is that Rangers will be needing to be at full strength for their next two Europa League games but following these games, they have a trip to Dingwall after they host Liege and then a trip to Tannadice after they visit Poznan. These two weekends could potentially see Steven Gerrard’s side drop points that could – provided Celtic don’t drop any more points – narrow the gap.
Should Rangers qualify for the Round of 32, they would need to play two more midweek games and depending on who they are drawn against, could face the daunting task of going to Livi away after a European tie. A notoriously difficult ground at the best of times.
Celtic need to fix what is going on at Lennoxtown immediately. Whether that is a new manager, another member of support staff to assist the manager and players – whatever. It needs to happen now so that the push to the title can resume at full pelt.
Relying on Rangers to drop points is far from ideal in such an important season but they have started very well and Celtic need to quickly address their shortcomings or face the fallout should 10IAR be surrendered.