That sort of exposure counts as experience. Others know the continental game because well, that is where they are from.
So what is holding us back? Self belief? Confidence? Communication? Tactics? Quality?
Probably a bit of everything and a different times. Right now though, Celtic are playing well, domestically at least.
To perform on the bigger stage requires more. More from everyone involved.
It isn’t simply about spending money on the best players out there. It is about developing your own talent and creating a team that can execute orders together.
Just because Callum McGregor was born, raised and developed as a player in Scotland doesn’t mean he isn’t as good as someone at Barcelona, Juventus or Bayern Munich. It only means a player in one of those teams benefited from the system of development in that country and club.
In fact I would argue that our versatile midfielder would be comfortable in any of those teams mentioned. The point I am trying to make is that we often mention that it is the gulf in finances that holds us back.
Certainly, that is the conclusion with some clubs, but not all of them. Are Leipzig and Salzburg really that much better than Celtic?
Is it really impossible to beat these teams? I’m not buying that.
When we play the cream of Europe – and I mean the “cream” – then I recognise the gulf. When you are playing a team who undoubtedly have the best players money can buy then the odds are stacked against you.
We’ve played the best in recent years and been put to the sword. But we’re not playing the best in this group nor did we exit the Champions League at the hands of the best.
Celtic have lost those matches because they didn’t play well enough. There is little wrong with the talent we have right now.
Leipzig paid close to £40M on three players during the summer. We spent less than a quarter of that on one player for the first time in our history.
That demonstration of spending power comes from investment or reinvestment. You can only put in what you are hopeful of getting back and to be honest, Leipzig sold Naby Keita to Liverpool for over £50M so they aren’t necessarily richer.
Celtic are still developing as a club in this type of market by buying “cheap” to sell on for more. Scotland is a hard sell to overseas players, but we are fortunate enough to tick a lot of boxes for players looking to develop their careers.
For Celtic to get anything out of the Odsonne Edouard purchase, he has to score in big games and help the team progress. He has done wel thus far, but he has more to do before he becomes a profitable player.
One day he is sure to make way for the next star, the way Moussa Dembele has for him. That is our market.
To get back to the main point though – money. More money can increase your options, but it doesn’t always buy success.
By comparison our Europa League group leaders, Salzburg, spent just over £10M this summer. In return they received almost £50M in sales.
So are these clubs richer than Celtic? Or is it just a better market place in Austria and Germany?
For clubs like Salzburg and Leipzig they are not too different from Celtic. They buy to sell and generate some of their income that way though domestic TV revenue is better.
Potentially, Celtic are a bigger club but we are confined by the league standard and domestic TV revenue. We make our own major income through merchandise, season tickets, players resales and European TV money.
On our day we can still beat teams in Europe. When we do not it isn’t necessarily because we aren’t spending the same sort of money.
Yes, you need the right personnel, but it is also about belief in your abilities. That must come from every player and coach at the club.
Martin O’Neill once said his Celtic team were punching above their weight. He was right about that to a certain degree, but he also had one of the best Celtic teams in history.
It is not out with the realms of possibility for this Celtic squad to go further. The evidence is there, but every single player needs to have the confidence, belief and conviction with everything that they do.
To be blown away by the likes of Barcelona and PSG in the last two seasons was tough especially when you are trying to progress as a team under new management. Those were setbacks however, we are not playing those teams right now.
Celtic Park is our turf and it is time to shine at home. It is time to believe in ourselves and our ability to win.