Celtic have had an obscenely good season by anyone’s standards. Even taking into account the financial advantage they have over every other club in Scotland, they had no right to absolute destroy the opposition in the manner they did. Unbeaten, winning every trophy, playing fantastic football, big derby wins, beating Aberdeen in every match; their list of amazing moments across the entire campaign has dozens on it.
Still, no football season is perfect and for some Hoops fans there may still be some niggling things from the campaign that they’ll be hoping Brendan Rodgers can fix in his second season. Football would be boring if your team didn’t continually strive to improve, after all.
Predictably most of these regrets come from Europe, which wasn’t quite the stellar campaign that their domestic season turned out to be. Here are FOUR regrets from the Celtic season that they’ll be striving to make amends for after the summer…
If you had to distil any regrets Celtic have from the last 12 months into a single moment then it would probably be Callum McGregor’s miss away to Borussia Monchengladbach in the UEFA Champions League Group Stages. With the game poised at 1-1 and the Germans down to ten men, the scene was set for the Hoops to steal a famous win.
The ball was at McGregor’s feet and instead of guiding it past the goalkeeper, he flashed it wide of the far post. For a midfielder that is usually so reliable in front of goal it was a glaring miss. Unfortunate yes, but ultimately a moment that partially cost the Hoops progress into the UEFA Europa League.
How do they rectify it next season? Well, finishing at least third in their group stage next season, should they get there, would represent fantastic progress under Brendan Rodgers. Celtic love nothing more than European football after Christmas and securing it next term would destroy any memory of this miss.
Of course, it goes without saying that Celtic’s dominance over Rangers this season was an absolute highlight for many fans. However, think how much better the gloating may have been if they’d beat the Light Blues in every single derby match over the last season. The city rivals played six times in all competitions and Brendan Rodgers’ side bodied them completely in five of those.
However, a late equaliser at Celtic Park is a blemish on the record as a whole. In terms of city dominance, there’s nothing better than winning every single match against the other, a green and whitewash if you will.
It doesn’t happen often and letting their lead slip so late against what was Graeme Murty’s eleven must niggle a wee bit. It’s easily rectified next season – simply beat them in every game!
It’s true that Celtic’s group draw was especially tough this season. Facing teams from Europe’s top three leagues is an especially cruel fate for a side that were hoping to find their feet in the competition again after a multi-year absence.
However, no matter who Celtic have gone up against in the past, they’ve always found ways to win against even the elite teams on the continent. Manchester United, AC Milan, Juventus; all teams that have wilted in the pressure cooker that is Celtic Park over the last 15 years.
The main thing missing from the Hoops’ European campaign was that home win in the group stages, the first time they’ve ever failed to win at home in the competition. Had they picked up three points at some stage they may have finished third and progressed beyond Christmas.
That’ll be a key aim of Brendan Rodgers next season. Even if they do not progress from the groups, he’ll at least want to see his side live up to the legacy at Celtic.
Another big blotch on the Hoop’s European record last season was suffering their biggest ever European defeat, at the hands of Barcelona. While it’s true the Catalan giants are capable of inflicting such misery on many, many good sides, it’s still a defeat that stings for many Hoops fans.
The gulf between the two sides in terms of talent is huge but what was most frustrating was the lack of fight in the Celtic side. They looked like they were not up for the battle and that battle is something Celtic teams must always bring to the table.
They did show progress in subsequent away matches in the competition, drawing both in Germany and away to Manchester City. That progress needs to continue next season, even against pot one sides.