BERTIE AULD has every sympathy with Brendan Rodgers before the Europa League Group B game against RB Salzburg tomorrow night.
The Lisbon Lion reckons it must be difficult for the Celtic boss to go against his attacking principles as he prepares his team for the encounter in Austria.
The Irishman has seen his side turned over by Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain on their travels over the past two seasons and has revealed he may have to rethink his strategy for such confrontations.
Auld, 80, recalls the day the legendary Jock Stein APOLOGISED to his players after asking them to defend in depth in an away tie en route to their historic European Cup triumph in Lisbon in 1967.
The former midfield mastermind said: “The last thing Big Jock used to drum into his players as we left the dressing room before every match was to entertain the fans.
“That was his mantra. He would remind us: ‘These people work hard all week to get the money to pay to see you play. You have a duty to put on a show for them – never forget that. Get out there and entertain them and put a smile on their faces’.
“The only time he went against his ideals was the semi-final against Dukla Prague in the Czechoslovakian capital in April 1967.
“We were 3-1 up from the first leg at our place following two goals from Willie Wallace and one from Wee Jinky Johnstone.
“We were 90 minutes away from playing in the European Cup Final and the temptation to lock the back door proved irresistible to my old gaffer. He used to abhor the defensive, negative tactics of Italian teams and others like them.
“He had always maintained he would never set out a team to defend. But he did that day in Prague.
“I know that was not an easy decision for Big Jock. He agonised over his team plan for that game. Honestly, he detested what he was about to order his player.
“We had been used to being told to get out there and attack. If we scored one goal, he wanted a second. If we got a second, he wanted a third and so on.
“That’s why scorelines with five, six or seven goals were so regular back then.
“However, he knew he had to abandon his attacking instincts for the game against Dukla. And I have to say the Celtic players could hardly believe what we were hearing when the manager went through his strategy the day before the match.
“There was Big Jock telling Willie Wallace to shadow their dangerman Josef Masopust all over the pitch. ‘Don’t leave his side for a moment, Wispy,’ he ordered the player whose two goals at Parkhead had given us the advantage.
“If Willie was confused by that tactic, it was nothing compared to Wee Jinky and Bobby Lennox being told to play as auxilliary full-backs!
“Our world-class winger was told to double up alongside Jim Craig on the right while Bobby was instructed to do the same on the left with Tommy Gemmell.
“Poor Stevie Chalmers was left up front on his own. ‘Chase everything,’ said Big Jock to our willing frontman. ‘Don’t give them a moment’s rest.
“Remember, too, we only had one substitute for European ties in those days and that was goalkeeper John Fallon.
“It wasn’t as though our boss could tell Stevie to give it his all for an hour or so in the knowledge he would be replaced for the remainder of the game.
“There was no such luxury. Stevie had to run around for an hour-and-a-half and challenge their back lot for everything.
“He did it very successfully, too, and we managed the goalless draw that took us through to the Final against Inter Milan.
“The rest, of course, is history. Thankfully, we reverted back to the style more associated with Celtic and we won the trophy.
“But that was only after Big Jock apologised to each and every one of his team that had faced Dukla in that second leg.
“He promised never to ask us to play in such a manner again and The Boss was as good as his word.”