Despite hopeful supporters praying for the best, Brendan Rodgers’ comments on Europa League success will deflate them.
The Celtic manager was speaking to Celtic TV ahead of their clash with Rosenborg on Thursday night. The Hoops will be looking to get their Europa League campaign off to a flyer against the Norwegians.
Yet, in preparation for the clash against their frequent foes, Rodgers has taken the time to cover a burning issue.
Celtic supporters have always spoken sarcastically about winning the competition in the past. Granted, some hope is always there, but nobody expects them to win it.
Rodgers, however, has been quick to get on top of that idea.
“I see lots of stories and reports about us getting to the final. That’s a long, long, long way away. You only have to look at the teams and the calibre of club and financial resources in this competition, and that tells you it is a long, long way away.
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“However, it’s the group stages and we have earned the right to be there and now we have to fight to show we can come out of [the group stage].”
A long, long way away. That’s how Rodgers seems to be itching to describe going all the way in this competition. Whilst it’s disappointing the manager doesn’t share that same enthusiasm as certain supporters, he’s spot-on.
You only need to look back to last season to see how easily Celtic were disposed of in this competition. Zenit St Petersburg steamrolled over the top of the Hoops in Russia. This was with a much stronger squad than the one Rodgers now has.
Moussa Dembele, Stuart Armstrong, and Patrick Roberts are all gone. You don’t lose that kind of quality and get better.
It’s clear that the manager knows that, and wants to make sure nobody gets ahead of themselves with the current squad. Celtic are only in a position to hope that they get out of the group stages. Anything further than that then it’s a bonus. It’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s where the club is at.
The Hoops will have a tough enough time getting out of the group stages. They should put Rosenborg to the sword, but the two Red Bull teams will provide stiff competition.
Celtic were beaten at home to Salzburg back in 2014 under Ronny Deila, but haven’t yet met Leipzig in European competition.
It’s a shame Rodgers has felt the need to come out with this in any case. Last season, when the same talk occurred, the manager was happy to let it flow. You feel that’s because he was happier with the squad from last term.
A failure to recruit the players that Rodgers wanted led to much anger from the supporters towards the board and Peter Lawwell.
It’s left Celtic looking at the Europa League and just praying they get out of the group stage. It’s a sad indictment of the weakening of the squad this summer, but in the end it’s reality.