Celtic way is not the right one for Europe

Brendan Rodgers has deserved all of the praise that has come his way since his arrival at Celtic Park due to his team’s impressive domestic dominance.

But given he is the highest paid manager in Celtic’s history it is the nature of the beast that his record in Europe should come under scrutiny.

And, so far, Brendan has been responsible for Celtic’s record defeat, a 7-0 Champions League loss in Barcelona.

Celtic were thumped 7-1 at PSG on Wednesday on a woeful night in the Champions League

Brendan Rodgers have overseen Celtic's record  7-0 defeat by Barcelona and now this at PSG

Brendan Rodgers have overseen Celtic’s record 7-0 defeat by Barcelona and now this at PSG

He’s also overseen the most embarrassing European defeat in the club’s continental history, losing away to a Gibraltar pub team called Lincoln Red Imps.

And his Celtic team has won just one game in the Champions League group stages; a 3-0 victory away to Anderlecht on a night when the Belgian champions were well below par.

On Wednesday night, Celtic suffered their latest heavy Champions League reverse when they lost 7-1 away to Paris St Germain.

They also lost 3-0 to a rampant Bayern Munich side, who had over 20 shots on goal and could easily have scored six or seven.

After both of these games, Brendan has tried to look at the positives. But what are the positives in losing 7-1 – or in looking like you are going to ship seven goals?

Of course, when teams like PSG are at the races they can demolish you. That’s why their players earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a week.

Neymar was in fine form against Celtic as PSG came from behind to thrash the Scottish side

Neymar was in fine form against Celtic as PSG came from behind to thrash the Scottish side

But when I played for Celtic under Neil Lennon we were able to close the financial gap and compete with the top teams in Europe.

In 2012-13, we beat Spartak Moscow, the Russian champions, home and away, and drew 0-0 at home with the Portuguese champions, Benfica. We could have won that Benfica match.

Barcelona beat us 2-1 in the Nou Camp but their winning goal only came in injury time – and we famously beat them 2-1 in the return at Celtic Park.

That was a really good Barcelona team, too, featuring Lionel Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Alexis Sanchez, and Dani Alves.

In fact, I believe that Barcelona side we beat at Celtic Park are a better team than this current Paris Saint-Germain outfit.

Barca were littered with World Cup winners and were hailed by many as arguably the best club side ever – but we not only competed with them, we beat them.

Under Neil Lennon, we didn’t do an Invincible season or win a Treble like Brendan did last season. But we were expected to dominate Scottish football and if we won the league it was simply: ‘job done.’

A club like Celtic will always be judged in Europe and competing at that level comes down to managerial skill.

It’s about being organised, having a little bit of luck – and players performing out of their skin. In our case, Fraser Forster had a terrific match in goal against Barcelona.

After Paris on Wednesday night, people on Twitter were saying ‘Celtic need a new goalkeeper or new defenders’ but Brendan probably has better defenders than we had when we beat Barcelona.

That night we had Adam Mathews, Efe Ambrose, Kelvin Wilson and Mikael Lustig. These players weren’t worth £20million but they were organised defensively.

So I don’t think it’s about the personnel. Brendan can’t keep saying ‘I won’t change’ when Celtic are losing three goals per game on average in Europe under his management.

He can’t keep saying that Celtic are going to play the Celtic Way. The Celtic Way is not losing 7-0 and 7-1!

Something has to change. Everything Brendan does in preparing for domestic matches is about dominating possession, having a high press, keeping the ball, and creating chances.

But Celtic can’t do that in Europe. I’m not saying they have to ‘park the bus’ but they have to be hard to beat. Celtic right now are not hard to beat. Results show that.

Since arriving at Celtic, everything Brendan has asked for he has been given. And the bottom line is a chairman and a board have to see improvement for all the investment that has been made.

Yes, he has taken the club back into the group stages twice. But have they improved enough in Europe?

The fact is many of Brendan’s predecessors were able to get big results in Europe.

Martin O’Neill had it against Juventus, Gordon Strachan had it against AC Milan and Manchester United. Neil Lennon had it against Barcelona.

Brendan is still waiting for his big European result. Hopefully that will come in the latter stages of the Europa League.

But it will require a change of approach and some hard work out on the training ground. 

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