WHEN looking through the various fixtures from around Europe before the weekend’s action gets underway, it’s safe to say that there are some clashes that are easier to call than others.
Indeed, any tie that PSG is involved with in the rather one-sided Ligue 1 should only really go one way. The same is true for Bayern Munich, with the Bavarians often handing out beatings to the rest of a shell-shocked Bundesliga. Although, it should be said that, until recently, there were a few more teams that could be added to these slam dunk predictions as well.
Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus used to have it all their own way but have come spectacularly unstuck in their respective leagues, with any type of consistency a thing of the past.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
These days, supporters have to put up with erratic performances that see a historically rock-solid defence ship goals for fun. Going the other way doesn’t provide much relief either, with fans having to sit through turgid attacking displays. By now, this type of performance is in all likelihood beginning to sound quite familiar if you’re a regular Celtic Park goer.
But like other former powerhouses on the continent, this new way of life is far from the norm. In fact, you could have certainly added Celtic to the list of teams that did not fail to deliver over the last decade with the Bhoys winning an incredible nine league titles in a row.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) July 10, 2020
It was an era of complete dominance that always saw Celtic able to carve out a win and you always knew it was coming despite what the scoreline might have suggested. It was reminiscent of the great Manchester United teams under Sir Alex Ferguson that always used to nick a winner in ‘Fergie Time’. It was that similar winning mentality that produced that never-say-die attitude at Celtic Park and made them one of the elite teams in Europe that were guaranteed to sweep away the opposition every weekend in the Cinch Premiership.
It goes without saying but those days do seem a long time ago now. In fact, fast forward to the 12th of October 2021 and you’ll see Celtic are at long odds of 5/2 to win the league. How times change.
Yes, the Hoops have joined the likes of Juventus, Manchester United, and a host of other former footballing powers in a transitional phase after years of bullying the league. But for a large contingent of the media and even parts of the Celtic fanbase, the thought of rebuilding is preposterous.
That’s not to say that everyone in Turin has adopted a zen-like approach to the end of Juve’s era of dominance or that the Socios don’t sit out until late at night on a cafe corner of La Ramblas bemoaning their new reality. But there is more of an acceptance that the good times do eventually come to an end in these parts of Europe.
In Glasgow, however, there is very little time for that notion with the fans demanding that heads must roll and in this instance, abandon the current Ange Postecoglou managerial experiment in order to revive a title bid.
Failing to Prepare Is Preparing to Fail
Naturally, there are a few who have come out and said the opposite by calling on the powers that be at Celtic Park to trust the manager despite the fact that the club is lying in sixth in the table. These opinions come from people who are more at ease with looking at the long-term benefits of building a new legacy, even if the here and now isn’t much fun.
It’s a wise position to take, especially in the current climate where brutal sackings seem to be the easy way out for any club in modern football that is going through a poor run.
There are, however, questions to be asked as to how Celtic have ended up in this position. With Celtic’s size and resources in a Scottish top-flight that only consists of twelve teams – many of whom are battling to make ends meet, one could perhaps say that the Bhoys shouldn’t ever go through an extended period of rebuilding.
In other words, given how dominant Celtic have been and the position of strength that they found themselves in after nine consecutive league titles, it is bordering on criminal that they have begun to tread water. When you take everything into consideration, the club shouldn’t be misfiring to the degree that they are, but we can see why tough times have arrived at Celtic Park after years of bliss.
Throwback to @CelticFC‘s first-ever win in Italy! 🍀
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) October 7, 2021
Indeed, numerous mistakes at boardroom level have been made over the last few seasons but above all, a lack of investment in the squad when Celtic were flying high has left them in the position that they find themselves in today. So yes, a rebuilding phase at Celtic Park can be justified but, in this instance, the reality is that Celtic shouldn’t have needed to after sitting in the pound seats for almost a decade.
With this in mind, you can understand why the groans on the terraces are beginning to get louder when you consider how the club has somehow contrived to lose the ascendency from a position of absolute power.