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Celtic in Europe - 2016/2017 Part Two

SD and JH review.

Eh aye so I told Stevie to keep his review short (about 200-250 words) cos this clickbait culture means folk don't really like reading big pieces.

That said, Stevie has good patter so it's always a decent read.

I'm going to keep my own one short. I hope.

Scott McDonald described our group as a free hit on Sportsound last night and he was pretty much correct tbqhwy imho. When the group was drawn we were aw like "oh for fuck sake mate", the way you do when Rodgers makes a change to the team and Brian Damage starts tweeting about how it's going to cost us at the end of the season. We were quite scunnered with the group that contained Barcelona (groan), Man City & Monchenwantmadadbach and didn't fancy our chances of progression. Why couldn't we get Leicester's group?

Anyway, barring the Nou Camp drubbing, we didn't disgrace ourselves. The 3-3 draw with City was one of the most memorable nights at Celtic Park while we got two draws AWAY FROM HOME (!!!!!) which was positive.

To me, the campaign reminded me of Neil Lennon's Europa League JOURNEY in the 11/12 season where we faced Atletico, Udinese and Rennes. We didn't embarrass ourselves in that group and you could see the team grow throughout which would bode well for our 12/13 Champions League assault. Guys like Wanyama, Forster, Ledley, Hooper etc. all grew in Europe the same way the likes of Rogic, Dembele, Armstrong, Sviatchenko, Simunovic have.

Qualification for next season is far from a guarantee but should we get there again we'll be far better equipped as we look to make a dent on the groups.

A big shout out to our captain Scott Brown who was exceptional throughout and lead by example. I don't care if the stat guys younger than me (and I'm 24) are telling us that the stats aren't reflective of that or some bullshit. A real groan brothers (and sisters).

Here's to next year. But if we draw Barca then fuck it. I don't want to be there again if that's the case. (JH)

12th July. The worst date around for Celtic fans, having to put up with a shower of apes grunting and being noisy nuisances over some historic victory in days of yore, so how fitting that we were riddied beyond belief on the rock of British Colonialism in Gibraltar, the home of the humble haplorhine. The day that Lee Casciaro added his name to the list of footballers worth the same price of this laptop I type on to have ripped the cunt out of Efe Ambrose. The Nigerian's error away to Red Imps would prove to be costly, as Brendan Rodgers knew he would have to be replaced asap if we were ever going to progress in the Champions League. Yes, it was ruthless, yes it was a wee bit harsh, but it was what we were crying out for after two years of failure being rewarded in the last tenure under a previous manager, where no one suffered any consequences.

People overreacted on the internet, shocker, over that 1-0 loss to Red Imps but it was painfully obvious we would skoosh the return leg, and we did, at a canter.

Then came the Kazakh side Astana, who weren't mugs by any means, yet they were somewhat hyped up by a section of fans as being a team to fear. I remember reading patter like 'I'd take a defeat as long as we score!' and I joined the burst oot greetin' club. It was terrible to see. I put a score on a draw and Astana's crap defending got me in the green. We made it hard for ourselves in the return leg but all that mattered was that we got to the big qualifiers.

Next on Celtic's List, were the Israeli side Hapoel Swig Of Beer, who turned out to be the most bi-polar team we've played this season. I watched us hammer them 5-2 in a wee pub in Antalya, and the next morning, sporting a BASTARD of a hangover, I logged onto Twitter on the hotel wifi in the lobby to see what the timeline was saying about it. To my dismay, after searching 'Celtic Champions League', all I saw was constant patter about Rangers. About money. About how rich we were going to be. Sneering classism. Is this what we had become ?

It turned out to be the moment myself, James and eventually Reidzo decided enough was enough and do our own thing to appeal to Celtic fans who just want to talk about fitba. We've done alright I think, anyway read on to hear the latest about David Cunningham King..............

The second leg in Israel was almost a disaster, with Craig Gordon and Saidy Janko combining for one of the worst goals we have ever conceded, but we saw the game out, as I coolly predicted, coming in for serious flak off GIGPOD's James who was a nervous wreck during the game, but we can't all be as assured as me eh.

August. The Big Dog Draw! I was stuffing my face at LOKS in Shawlands(not a fan btw) for my granda's 70th and my medium rare steak was too appealing for me to get passionate about the draw, but I did groan at another encounter with Barcelona. BMG and Man City were exciting though.

I felt we did alright in the group stages, despite finishing bottom and suffering one of our worst results ever, in the first match. We were too naive in some matches, and nowhere near clinical enough, but the performances of the likes of Craig Gordon, Erik Sviatchenko, Scott Brown and Moussa Dembele were hugely encouraging.

Overall, I did think we could have achieved a shot at a run in the Europa League and still feel annoyed we didn't beat BMG away. McGregor would have buried his chance against Thistle or Dundee, but completely let himself down at that level, which may be an indication the manager will seek to improve our options overall next season in the squad. At the same time, Rodgers has already managed to improve so many who stagnated under Deila, so perhaps there's still space for McGregor in the side when we go again next year.

European Highlight : The atmosphere V Man City at home. Best since Barcelona 2012.

European Groan : Saidy Janko in Israel. Honestly. Are we going to just forget that ? (SD)