When Celtic flew back into Glasgow Airport yesterday it didn’t mark the end of the Europa League campaign.
Inquest into what went wrong and the likelihood of qualifying for next season’s Champions League are already well underway. Talk of a domestic treble isn’t to the fore.
The stats fanatics will be in full flow, twisting logic and interpreting things to their own agenda ignoring the obvious- results.
The purpose of a group is to see where clubs are ranked over the same schedule of fixtures with Celtic finishing fourth and winless up against Molde, Ajax and Fenerbahce.
Results can’t be debated, the group table does that job. The bigger question is whether the club is improving and moving forward or not.
In the background the mentality of the players and manager has to be questioned. Immediately after losing out on a Champions League place to Malmo Ronny Deila said that his players looked frightened and scared, the following day he retracted those comments.
The six game Europa League schedule has been tough going on the Celtic support, worryingly there seems to be a theme developing among the players where they are questioning their own mentality.
What is said in the media doesn’t always equate to the true feelings of those involved but when similar messages emerge it adds to their credibility.
After losing at home to Molde Craig Gordon said: “I never felt as though we were ever really in control of the game. It felt like we were always chasing it. We are far too easy to play against. We can have no complaints.
“We didn’t break as quickly on them as they did on us. I can’t recall us having too many good counter-attacks.”
After the draw with Fenerbahce Stefan Johansen echoed that view saying: “We obviously need to try more – we look a bit afraid when it comes to the pressure.
“Hopefully we can get that off our shoulders and play better next year. It’s a mix of young players, a lot of the players in the group don’t have that experience.
“The pressure is there but in a club like Celtic, that’s what they need to learn when they come in.”
Throughout Celtic’s European history fear has played no part, if it had the club’s history would be entirely different.
In recent times there would have been no home wins over Manchester United, AC Milan or Barcelona. Three times Celtic have taken nine points from the group phase of the Champions League, under Neil Lennon they took 10 points.
Despite this season’s failings Celtic will again be seeded through next season’s Champions League qualifying campaign, if they fail to win the league other debates will take over!
Rediscovering the belief and attitude that has been behind the greatest triumphs in the clubs European history is essential.
Without that spirit, the drive to punch above their weight, to overcome the odds the odds become insurmountable.
The excuses are over, across the whole club attitudes must change, this season’s grim European experience can’t be allowed to become the norm.