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I probably thought that we would win the Champions League- realism at the heart of Rodgers II

The ambitions burn just as fiercely but there is a dose of realism to Rodgers II.

It is seven years on from the phone call to Kolo Toure to rescue Celtic’s Champions League hopes as task number one for the new manager was to steer Celtic past Astana and Hapoel Be’er Sheva after that awkward clash with Lincoln Red Imps.

Those steps opened the door to Manchester City and Barcelona as seeds were sown. What if…

Second time around Paris Saint Germain handed out two brutal defeats, in truth it could have been worse but a 12-1 aggregate says enough.

Between those defeats was a beacon of hope as a measured and clinical Celtic side handed out a 3-0 defeat to Anderlecht on their home patch.

That result should have been the launch pad, a new benchmark of what was possible for Celtic in Europe but 18 months later Rodgers had left leaving behind that isolated European high point.

Domestic success will always be welcome and celebrated, the more trebles you win the more that you want but Europe featured heavily in Rodgers decision to return to Celtic. If he didn’t think that he could take the hoops deep into a European competition he’d have stayed on in Mallorca waiting on the inevitable EPL offer

After a month of modest transfer activity, Celtic could start tomorrow’s SPFL opener against Ross County without any new signings in the Starting XI, Rodgers still has plans to strengthen the squad but it will be firmly within established parameters.

Speaking to the Daily Record, the Celtic boss said:

I don’t think it’s a great secret in terms of the model here and where it’s at. Economically, it can be very tough for a club like ours to compete….

That’s something I had to have in my mindset myself to come back. When I was here the last time I probably thought we would win the Champions League! I’m a realist and I understand the model.

This is an amazing place to play and work, but there will be times after a few years where players move on, but we’ve seen there’s a great pipeline for players to come in. At this moment in time, there’s nothing.

Last summer Ange Postecoglou spent £20m on new players without anyone being sold. For £6.5m each the loans for Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers were converted to permanent deals with £3m spent on Alexandro Bernabei with the same figure used to sign Sead Haksabanovic.

Celtic got their transfer model into operation in January with a healthy profit left over from replacing Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis with Alistair Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu.

In isolation that is admirable, the trick is to repeat it to avoid the disruption caused by the transfers or Moussa Dembele and Kieran Tierney.

Vakoun Bayo, Patryk Klimala ad Albian Ajeti were bought before finding Kyogo Furuhashi. Similarly fortunes were frittered away on Boli Bolingoli and Diego Laxalt before the realisation set in that Greg Taylor was pretty useful.

The squad depth is there, either of the XIs fielded against Athletic Club Bilbao would win nine out of 10 SPFL matches.

To raise the standards and make Celtic effective in the Champions League group stage, first team starters are needed to displace those already there.

That is a more likely route to success than signing players at £1-2m and hoping that one in four can make the breakthrough.

Finding a Kris Ajer or Jeremie Frimpong is very rare, a Jota or Carter-Vickers type signing is far more likely of bringing success and impact.

The draw for the Champions League group stage takes place on Thursday, August 31 with the SPFL transfer window closing at 11pm the following day. Celtic go to Ibrox on Sunday September 3.

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