I’m at the stage of thinking, “If we sort out that, and do a bit of this, take our chances and ride our luck, we might just…….” Typical optimism before an away European tie. We’ll know soon enough how we compare to Ajax.
We didn’t sink without trace in our visit to the Amsterdam ArenA two years ago, but it was an anaemic performance from Celtic, who failed to pass well or create anything of note. There wasn’t an effective game plan to hustle Ajax.
Hustle Ajax is exactly what we did in 2001. Martin O’Neill wilted when he discovered he’d need to eliminate Ajax to reach the Champions League group stage, but by kick-off he’d done his work. Ajax would prove what a good team they were at Celtic Park a week later, but by then it was too late. Celtic used the cloak of unfancied underdogs to punch through a barrier in their European development.
If you were an Ajax scout, reporting on how to play Celtic, you would be brimming with confidence ahead of tonight, but this has been Celtic at their worst. We can play better.
Ronny’s taken a bit of stick recently, not without good reason, as simple tasks which most teams achieve, like defending a set-piece, have seen Celtic fail repeatedly. But again, this is not the whole picture. He’ll turn it around, just as he did last year. Nowhere better than away to the top seed tonight.