You can’t say anyone predicted that.
In the lead up to last night’s match against PSG, I didn’t see anyone online imagining a hammering like we received. We knew it was going to be a tough game, a monumental task to keep PSG’s front three quiet and one that we would have to be at our very best to get anything out of. A combination of PSG being devastatingly impressive and Celtic capitulating resulted in us being on the end of a humiliating scoreline, and it’s one I am still feeling gutted at this morning.
I’m sure it will be irrelevant when we get the hate mail in for this article, but right now, I am struggling to handle the ‘acceptance culture’ of that bodying last night.
I know what’s coming – ‘Fitba’s changed!’, ‘Aye but their money…..’ and ‘We were drawn in a hard group’ and other excuses.
Here’s a shoot – we’ve been drawn in very tough groups before, and we’ve never had an acceptance of defeat mentality in the past. Call me bonkers, or something really more scathing, but I just can’t get my head around a 5-0 defeat at Celtic Park and brushing it off like you’ve lost a fiver.
An example of the mentality shift now to the past – 2004. Celtic were drawn in one of the hardest Champions League Groups at that time. Barcelona, AC Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk. An ageing team, who brought in bargain basement freebies and loans to bolster a squad dead on their feet from success the previous campaign, with no major challenge to their comfort zone and guaranteed starting place every week, in a group stage up against players like Eto’o, Deco, Matuzalem, Tymoshchuck, Shevchenko, Ronaldinho, Kaka and some Larsson guy.
Did we acknowledge it was going to be a big ask to qualify ? Yes. Did we suffer stage fright and freeze up against these world class players ? No.
We did, however, go out of Europe completely and found ourselves outclassed in most group stage matches that year, but we did compete and did not thoroughly embarrass ourselves, as Barcelona and AC Milan had to work hard to beat us.
Over the years, with less technically gifted players than other teams we faced, we have put in some effort to make Celtic Park a tough place for other teams to visit, claiming many scalps of the big dogs of European football, when the odds were stacked against us, and even when they were, our fans usually fumed at a defeat in any case – as it should be!
Recently, we’ve been on the end of some tankings, mostly away from home, and usually from the biggest hypocrites in world football who pose as saints at the Nou Camp, but last night was the first time we have been trounced in that manner at Celtic Park, and I sincerely hope it’s a one off. It was as demoralising as it gets.
The club spent the build up to last night’s game as a PR exercise in pandering and being overawed, not letting us forget that guys like Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe were indeed, on the hallowed turf of Celtic Park, before the game. Thanks for that guys, appreciate the reminder! Yes, I’m aware these guys are not here every week, so there will be some excitement over it, but it became a complete sideshow that people seemed to forget the fact that similar big names like these players have came to Celtic Park before, and have not been allowed to stroll it, or dictate the tempo of the match, and the game itself wasn’t all about them.
We celebrated wildly about getting into the CL in 2016, and ended up finishing fourth, hoping to learn from that campaign for this season.
Again, we celebrated wildly about reaching the group stages this year, and we’ve started off the same as last season in the CL – being on the end of a trouncing.
We go nuts at reaching the promised land of big bad UEFA’s (who we are meant to hate of course) select privileged playground, and the narrative is now that the gap between us and the elite is getting bigger and bigger, and while that’s actually true, there was none of this pre-match(that I could see), and vast amounts of money cannot excuse Celtic’s performance to do the basics last night, and not freeze on the big stage, as we felt how many SPFL sides we face every week feel when they come up against us home or away. We slag off Aberdeen, Hearts and others when they bring up our financial advantage, and wage budget compared to theirs. Now our fans are doing the same with PSG and their financial clout ? Am I overanalysing football’s big cycle ? Not for me to say, but maybe.
All I know is, the fact that the biggest cheer of the night was for Neymar being halved, and not even properly, as he completed the full 90 minutes anyway, was pretty grim.
I wish we had purchased properly in the summer, to at least try and compete in games like this, and not accept the thrashing with alarming ease.
Is this going to be the future for us in the Champions League ? Accepting that these big clubs are going to walk over the top of us and just be there for the money we get ? We don’t see any of that money, it doesn’t impact any of us as fans, so why do we go bananas when we see the financial breakdown of how much each game earns us ? The only person that gets satisfaction out of that, is Peter Lawwell, who will see a direct benefit of that cash injection, but where that money goes we do not know.
We’ll be recording on GIGPOD tonight, covering the game in more detail, the Rab McHendry tribute act, UEFA’s shoot punishment, the negligence of strengthening that defence in the summer and Stuart Armstrong’s gutless performance, and if you have any response to this article, we can discuss it on the podcast!