We saw a thoroughly professional performance from Celtic in Stockholm last night. AIK were always a team we should have beaten, but ‘should have’ does not always happen, as our previous encounter proved.
James Forrest, Mikey Johnston and Odsonne Edouard were on fire, while Christopher Jullien and Boli Bolingoli looked more comfortable than in previous outings.
Lazio finished eighth in Serie A last season, behind all the big names, but a decent ‘Best of the Rest’. Rennes are off to a flier, top after three wins from three games, including a win over PSG, but finished 10th in Ligue 1 last term. They will be better than anyone we have faced so far this season but this is why we want to be in European football.
Cluj are the team I wanted most of all. They are a strong pot 4 team but we were awful against them and need to put it right. This is a challenging Europa League group providing lots of opportunity to prove a point. Bring it on.
48 hours from now, we will be in action at Ibrox, where we were outplayed twice last season in games that ultimately cost nothing. Those experiences seem to have left some in our number with a bedwetting disposition ahead of Sunday. Steven Gerrard has added ten to his squad while Celtic, if you read some coverage, have done little transfer business of note. This is bollocks!
Gerrard starts from a losing position. His team have not won any major trophies. Celtic have been imperious on a level never previously known, three consecutive trebles!
Of Newco’s ten additions, two were for money (Helander, who they did not pay the reported £3m for, and Edmundson, sending £700k to the English fourth tier in return). Two are loans (Ojo and King), but the bulk are the Tried and Tested Free Transfers route to building a successful team (Hastie, Jones, Stewart, Davis, Aribo, Barker).
Bargain bucket- teams are easier to assemble than teams full of players who command transfer fees, but when the trophies are handed out, they are seldom on the receiving end.
By contrast, Celtic have so far spent £12m reassembling their disrupted defence (Jullien, Bolingoli, Elhamed), with Bauer on loan – and an option to buy him. There is also a quality left back on his way.
Fraser Forster is here on loan (he’s not cheap). We took advantage of the cross-country opportunity we exploited to sign Moussa Dembele, to capture Luca Connell for £350k, and I expect another first team addition (as well as the left back) before the window closes.
Celtic got everything wrong on one game this season but have all of the most productive, successful and valuable players in the country on the field at Ibrox on Sunday. We cannot take any game for granted, and I have seldom gone to Ibrox without concerns, but Celtic will blow Scottish football away again this season. I’m not buying the Newco threat.