“If we win tomorrow night everyone stops talking,” Callum McGregor on Celtic’s European hoodoo…
Callum McGregor spoke with the media earlier this afternoon and had to take a minute to fire back at the endless list of people who have castigated him and his teammate’s over their UEFA Champions League group stages’ results over the past two years.
It comes amidst a litany of damning verdicts and reports into the inability of the club to win a home game in the competition which has stretched for a decade now.
The last time we tasted a home victory in the Premier UEFA competition was way back in 2013 under Neil Lennon, when we defeated Ajax 2-0 at Celtic Park in what would prove to be another fruitless European campaign that year as well. What that had in common with now was the obvious downsizing that had taken place and the Irishman decided that enough was enough at the end of that season when he stepped down as boss of the club.
Ronny Deila was brought in as his replacement and things went from bad to worse under a transfer strategy that was so scatterbrain it was like a Laurel and Hardy sketch. Deila was a young and aspiring coach but he needed help from above and that did not come, leaving him to limp to any success he had domestically without a strong challenger in the Scottish Premiership and an embarrassing run in Europe during his tenure.
This led ultimately, to the appointment of Brendan Rodgers and with the Celtic Board desperate to get the fanbase back on side and attending games, they forked out for a quality addition and we begun to witness the results.
Whilst domestically we were second to none, many will point to Rodgers’ attempts at Europe but you have to caveat his record with the fact that he got us through the qualifiers at a time when it was becoming farsical every, single summer. Rodgers managed to change that and wanted the money to improve the side to have another tilt at it once again. When that didn’t come, the writing was on the wall as the Celtic heirarchy, as they’ve always done, reverted to type.
This close-season, the Irishman arrived back to try and help repair the damage that was done with his early departure in 2019 to Leicester City and to try and make an impact in European football. Once more, it looks like the boss has been sold short and as long as this continues to be the case, the Bhoys won’t do a thing in tournaments like the UEFA Champions League.
McGregor though, took an opportunity to point out that it isn’t just this current Celtic team that has struggled in Europe, but others that have come well before the crop that are in situ. “I think people like to have too much time on their hands and they come up with these statistics and I’ve said it out there as well that you can’t label that at this year’s group or last year’s group. It’s a longer term thing,” he said via Celtic TV.
“Even before that, the club haven’t even been in the Champions League for last four years, so it all starts to add up over the years. We understand we want to be competitive, when we get to this level we have to make an impact. Everyone at the clubs know that, knows the position on it.
“If we win tomorrow night everyone stops talking about, it gives you that belief and hopefully we’re back here next season and can kick on from there. It’s important we keep everything internal, we know the messages we’re trying to set, the standards. The performances, we believe we should’ve had more points but we have to prove it on the pitch,” the Celtic captain said.