Celtic are a club steeped in history and tradition, with one of the most dedicated, committed, and passionate fan bases on the planet. It’s not surprising that the support demands success from their team, and, most of the time, that’s exactly what they get.
However, since that famous night in 1967, European success has been something that has eluded Celtic. They reached another final in 1970, but performances continued to dwindle over the years. This season saw Celtic return to the Champions League for the first time in five years, although it did prove to be too much of an ask for this Celtic side. As the club look to be heading for another Champions League group stage next season, what can fans realistically expect.
The Champions League Today
Today’s top-tier European competition is an entirely different animal to the one those legendary Celtic players dominated in the summer of 1967. Now, the tournament is a streamlined, commercialised money-making machine. The quality of football is on another level too, with teams valued at nearly £1 billion. The tournament today is a truly global phenomenon, with Champions League tickets highly sought after.
How Realistic is Success?
Celtic obviously can’t touch the big Champions League teams in terms of finances, leading many to deem their Champions League efforts to be a fruitless endeavour. However, as we’ve seen countless times in the past, money isn’t necessarily everything in football. Anything can happen, especially in a knockout competition. Villarreal from last season’s tournament are a good example. They reached a semi-final by toppling giants in Juventus and Bayern Munich before eventually succumbing to Liverpool.
Obviously, even Villarreal are ahead of Celtic financially, but it shows that the footballing giants don’t always get it their own way in the Champions League.
How can Success be Achieved?
How can Celtic emulate Villarreal success and push for better performances in next season’s tournament? Ange has already touched on what he has called an aggressive transfer policy. He wants the team to be in constant regenerative cycle, bringing in fresh young talent and then selling on for a profit. Properly executed, such a strategy would certainly pay dividends, but it would likely take a season or two more to really get going.
Are there any direct changes that can be made to affect performances next year? Perhaps some tactical tweaks could be the answer. Ange has maintained he will never give up his attack-focused philosophy, and this is certainly admirable. However, maybe some slight alterations so that Celtic are not so open at the back would be the key to pushing onto that next level and progressing in Europe’s elite competition.
Celtic belong in the Champions League – that’s not up for debate. However, the modern game is such that the club will need a perfectly planned and executed strategy to do well. Fans have every right to expect success, but they may have a while to wait before they see it.