JOHN COLLINS has spoken about the need for Celtic players to perform better if they are to have any success in the Champions League Group stage. The draw is coming up shortly and while there is great excitement among the support, the former Assistant Manager’s words will strengthen the widely held belief that Brendan Rodgers should go back into the transfer market to better equip the Scottish Champions for the six exciting matches at the highest level of club football.
Reflecting on Tuesday’s second leg in Israel Collins saw plenty of room for improvement.
‘It was a long 90 minutes. Actually it was a very poor performance. They kept giving the ball away but they hung on in there and they got that wonderful qualification.
‘The whole club will have such relief throughout, fans, players and the coaching staff because as a club they really need it and want to be in the Champions League,’ said Collins.
Looking back on the previous two qualifying campaigns which ended in dismal failure when Ronny Deila was manager, the former Assistant boss recognised the difficulty involved in getting through the qualifiers. “It has been tough the last few years but they will have to play better when they get into Group Stages.’
Asked if Brendan Rodgers could expect a warm reception when putting his head around the door to ask for further transfer funds to strengthen the side ahead of the Champions League Collins was optimistic that the club would welcome such a request.
“I think he is going to get a warm reception. It’s a lot of money they’ll earn – there’s talk of it being around £25m.
‘Everyone who watched the game, directors or supporters, will all realise that they need a couple of new players. Definitely a right back and maybe a midfielder or another striker.
‘The fans definitely want more players to come in as well. But it is not easy getting the right players. It is okay having the money but it is about getting the right players at the right price.
‘Most players that are available at this moment in time are players that aren’t playing. They could be out of the picture at their clubs and disgruntled. So you are getting a player that is coming in who isn’t going to hit the ground running anyway.’
Looking forward to the Group Stages Collins has this advice for the Celtic players.
‘Away from home you’ve got to be brave. You’ve got to want the ball. You’ve got to be able to keep the ball.
‘Too often in these games they give the ball away.If you give the ball away against good teams, especially Champions League teams, you get punished. You don’t see it for maybe 2 or 3 minutes. There’s 20 or 30 passes and you end up running, chasing and getting tired. You become detached from one and other and you get cut open.
‘So the first thing you’ve got to do is try to keep the ball better.’