Celtic manager Neil Lennon has stated that the only “really disappointing” aspect of the current season has been our European exit.
The Hoops have pretty much done it all this year. Lennon’s men are 13 points clear in the Premiership having already won the Betfred Cup. Celtic are also into the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, and look like red-hot favourites to take that competition too, should we get the chance to finish it.
Even in Europe, Celtic have turned up for the first time in a long time. Lennon’s side managed to top their group for the first time in the club’s history, whilst winning away in Italy in another club-first.
However, our 4-2 aggregate defeat to Copenhagen in the round of 32 stage was a severe blow. And, speaking to Celtic’s official website, Lennon had the following to say on it:
“The only disappointment to me, really, was going out of Europe the way we did. That was really disappointing because we really felt we could make inroads into the competition.
“But our record for 2020 would stand up to any club in Europe or even throughout the world, and it’s not the easiest thing to do because teams are set up to stop you scoring or try to nullify you in any way they can, so I can’t ask any more of the players.
“It’s how I want to see Celtic playing. We’re there to entertain the fans, and that’s in the DNA of the club, so the players have responded in the right way, there’s no question.”
Copenhagen will forever be a big regret
Lennon is spot on to highlight the Copenhagen game here as the only real disappointment. That was a tie that was essentially a gift, with Celtic only really needing to keep the head and do the basics right to go through.
However, costly individual errors won the tie for the Danes. Celtic missed a plethora of huge opportunities in the away leg that should’ve been buried. It wouldn’t have been over the top to say that we should’ve left Denmark with a 3-1 or 4-1 success.
In the end, Celtic paid for that profligacy just as is often the case in Europe when you don’t take your chances. Considering we had never managed to get beyond the last-32 stage of the competition, it was a massive let down.
Then again, given what’s happened with the current health crisis, there’s no guarantee we would’ve been able to continue on in the tournament with the way things are going. As of right now, the Europa League and Champions Leagues are suspended.
It would’ve been peak Celtic to have managed to make the last-16 only for a major health crisis to call time on the competition. Even then, our failure to get beyond the first knockout round after the groups continues to be frustrating.
Hopefully, we can make bigger inroads into Europe this season. But make no mistake, this was a year that should’ve delivered better in that sense.