Perhaps the most concerning aspect for Celtic in their devastating defeat to Cluj was the lack of bottle the team showed.
The Hoops bowed out of the Champions League for another season after a 5-4 aggregate defeat to the Romanians. Neil Lennon’s men were ahead twice in the closing stages of the tie but somehow managed to throw away their lead with some awful defending on both occasions.
Celtic have failed to make the Champions League group stage on numerous occasions over the past decade or so, but rarely could they be accused of lacking such bottle. It never looked as if they were going to see it out.
Who’s to blame for the Celtic lack of bottle against Cluj?
Skipper Scott Brown has led the club impeccably in Europe for years but he badly let his teammates down on Tuesday night. The 34-year-old gave away a remarkable penalty in the second-half just as it looked like we were in the clear.
His overall display and decision making at key times portrays a worrying picture for the season ahead.
His goalkeeping namesake Scott Bain should have been marshalling his players across the finishing line too. Instead he was also responsible for one of the Cluj goals – failing to deal with a relatively speculative long-range effort. After conceding seven goals in three matches Bain really doesn’t seem like the answer going forward.
It’s tough to single out just Brown and Bain from an inept defensive performance. Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic didn’t cover themselves in glory either. Neil Lennon must also take a share of the blame.
It was a very troubling episode indeed.