Celtic v Hamburg tonight, not Scotland v Hamburg


Contrary to some opinions being expressed elsewhere tonight’s Europa League tie with SV Hamburg is about Celtic, it’s not Scottish Football v SV Hamburg, it’s actually Celtic v Hamburg.

What happens elsewhere and in the ‘bigger picture’ is only of interest to the tiny percentage of football followers who have no allegiance to any particular club.
Tonight the vast majority of football supporters in Scotland will be hoping for a Hamburg win, they have no interest in Hamburg but would love to see Celtic lose.
It was the same scenario on Tuesday when supporters up and down the country cheered wildly as a Romanian team that they would struggle to spell made up of players they didn’t know beat Rangers 4-1 at Ibrox.
That’s life, that’s the way supporters are, supporters support their team, nothing else. Supporters have no interest in the co-efficient, they want their team to succeed, to win, to progress.
The downside of any European success is that it allows other teams into Europe when they are clearly not at the races for that level of competition as the results of Aberdeen, Motherwell and Falkirk have demonstrated, there should never be more than three Scottish teams involved in European football if there is any interest in the mythical co-efficient.
It’s always refreshing to see a manager speak up on the subject and within 24 hours of Rangers defeat from Unirea Tony Mowbray wasn’t taking on any extra responsibility for the sake of Scottish football.
Managing Celtic is a big enough challenge for Mowbray, being expected to produce results for the Scottish game is asking far too much of the former West Brom and Hibs manager.
Tonight Mowbray’s only objective is a Celtic win, he said: “Do I feel a responsibility for the Scottish game? No.
“I have a responsibility to our supporters to try to give them a performance that they are happy with and hopefully try to get us some points.
“If it helps the mood around Scottish football then great, but basically we will be out to get some points to try to progress in a European competition.”
A win tonight would be a great boost for a Celtic side that is clearly lacking in confidence and belief.
The season has yet to really catch fire with the new signings currently out injured and a deja-vu feeling to much of the games with supporters disillusioned and questioning the value that they are getting from their ticket money.
Without wishing to tempt fate the next couple of SPL fixtures aren’t the most daunting, if Celtic can get back involved in the Europa League and put together a few SPL wins at the same time as Marc-Antoine Fortune returns from injury then things should start to look up.
Clearly the squad is some distance short of that required to be comfortable and competitive in the Champions League but some signs of recovery would be welcome.
The team has been on the slide for a while, there has been occasional highlights like the 2008 title win at Tannadice and last season’s Co-Operative Cup win, but overall the graph has been downwards.
Confidence is essential in football but it only comes through winning matches, a win tonight would give the players some respite and the supporters hope that the club is at last moving forward towards recapturing some of the excitement and anticipation that has followed Celtic over the last decade.

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