After Tuesday’s thumping defeat in Barcelona, Celtic must return to winning ways in the Scottish Premiership this weekend. They face Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The task for Brendan Rodgers is to motivate his players and put behind them such a heavy European loss. The result was far from ideal and lessons must be learned quickly but as I have stated before, Celtic were up against the best there is.
It doesn’t excuse naivety or any other failing you care to offer in the post match analysis. That is football though and Celtic must emerge stronger.
Fortunately, there are sufficient options for the manager to make changes this weekend should he feel the necessity. Some players may not be in the right frame of mind for Caley Thistle but they will all need to get past this European result eventually.
Losing by such a large margin is difficult to justify. I wouldn’t dare make excuses for Brendan Rodgers.
Some fans might, though personally I’m looking to the future. Will Barcelona do the same to Manchester City or Borussia Monchengladbach?
Who knows? What Celtic must do is bounce back though.
This Celtic team is still evolving. Under new management we’ve seen established players do better and with some new players we’ve seen additional quality.
There is more to come and it is a progressive piece of work. To play Barcelona first has halted that progress, but it is done and dusted now.
The Scottish Premiership is every bit as important as the Champions League. So the players must retrain their thoughts on the former.
There will be players itching to get involved. Guys who barely saw the ball or even the time at Camp Nou midweek.
Craig Gordon has a place to fight for even if I do think he has errors in him. That can’t be any worse than what I’ve seen from Dorus de Vries though.
Cristian Gamboa will need more games before we can truly judge him. Similarly, Celtic will need to assess their defensive organisation as it is leaking goals.
I’m not just referring to the seven in Barcelona. Prior to that, Celtic conceded 12 goals in their first 11 competitive games of the season.
Only two of those matches have been clean sheets against Lincoln Red Imps and Motherwell. So defence is an area that must improve fast.
From midfield to front we have more options and stability but we must use it better. Under Rodgers I’m keen to see how that progresses.
If more players come and go then great. We want to have the best team we can afford.
This won’t be anywhere near the quality of our Champions League rivals. We must work worth what we have for now though.
Eventually Celtic will hit a glass ceiling, but if we can improve with what we have right now we’re on the right road. That’s worth bearing in mind.
When we know which avenues have been exhausted, we can add and subtract accordingly. Until then let’s allow Brendan Rodgers to prove himself.
Nobody wants second, third or fourth best. We need to keep perspective though.
Roy Keane was way off the mark in his rant about Celtic’s defeat. Fancy talking about your managerial career Roy?
Keane may be a fan of our club but his assessment of the 7-0 defeat didn’t offer anything of substance. He merely highlighted some facts interlaced with a short sighted viewpoint.
I won’t say that Celtic will go on to finish a hopeful third in their Champions League group. That must remain the goal though.
We should not write off a developing team. We must support them as always.
Did any of our recent managers make European progress in their first season in charge? Absolutely not.
O’Neill, Strachan and Lennon, our favourites of the modern era, all stumbled in season one before Christmas was upon us. In the not too distant future (now the past) we got there though.
Time, experience and future results will tell us if we’re heading in the right direction. I’m keen to see how that goes.
Let’s deal with the match ahead though, starting this Sunday at 3pm. There’s a league title to defend.