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Letter From America: Thoughts On The Zenit Shambles And Beyond

Celtic leave the field after another poor exit in Europe

Our American correspondent Andrew Doran weighs in on Celtic’s latest European calamity and asks where the Bhoys go from here:

Another year, and yet another embarrassing exit from European competition. The common theme of the last couple of years European competitions is to barely show up. While a majority of the last few years Celtic has simply not been good enough to compete with other European teams, this year should have been different.

In the end though, the only difference was Celtic waited till after Christmas to be knocked out in embarrassing fashion. There will be a lot of blame to go around after this dismal performance, ranging from Brendan Rodgers, to the players, and finally the board.

While I have been a big proponent and fan of Rodgers, it is painfully obvious that he needs to rethink of his strategy when it comes to European nights.

Overall, I still think Rodgers is one of the best managers to helm Celtic at the moment for two main reasons. One, he is better than a majority of Scottish managers and will always keep us on top in order for us to complete 10 in a row, and second, he is going to attract new players to come to Parkhead in order to play for him.

Even with those things in mind, he clearly needs to change his tactics when playing European teams. The fact that we have 2 wins in 2 years is simply appalling. I am also confused as to why we didn’t change our strategy once we went 2-0 down. We needed a goal quickly, but nothing truly earth shattering came.

While I am always happy when we can win trebles on the domestic level, but Rodgers really needs to find a new strategy or else we are going to be in Europeans purgatory forever.

While Rodgers will get a lot the blame, the players need to be held accountable for that embarrassing performance on Thursday. The players, throughout the year, have looked flat, as if winning the treble last season let them coast this season. With some notable exceptions (Forrest), almost everyone has taken a step backwards.

While it’s easy to see during the course of the year, it was so easy to see how easy Celtic took the game on Thursday. The defense was out of sorts, and at times, just down right lazy. The fact that Lustig let a Zenit forward run free 10 yards for the final goal was insane. Sinclair looks like he is scared to take a shot on goal.

Dembélé looks like he has lost a step overall. It looks like Celtic just wanted to be handed things, just because we are Celtic and have such a rich history. These players need to step up for the rest of the season in order to win the treble, or this year will be a failure.

Finally, a big group that needs to harbour some blame is the board. Yes, it’s great that Celtic is maintaining a profit. I’m glad to know that we are not anywhere near administration and we can turn a nice profit.

The profit though, only helps so many people. We needed to spend more money this winter window on every aspect of the pitch, especially since we have so many players that are dealing with injuries.

With the board sitting on their hands, we will never be as good and we will always crash out in embarrassing fashion. We need a new mindset with how we spend our money, or this crashing out of Europe early and often is going to get really old (if it hasn’t already).

Simply put, Celtic need to look hard this summer on how we are going to compete with other clubs on the European stage. It’s not a lost cause because there are plenty of other teams who are smaller or the same size that have successful campaigns year and year.

I understand that we are never going to be PSG, Barca, or Bayern, but we can be successful like Monaco or Zenit. If we don’t change, we can always except the same thing year after year, being knocked out by a lesser team than us.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @apdoran