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Am I missing something? Sutton slam’s Lawwell’s European makeover

Chris Sutton has taken Peter Lawwell to task over Celtic’s dismal European showings.

Most interest in Friday’s release of the Interim Report was centred on finances and transfers with the bank balance looking much healthier than the performances on the park.

Cash has been committed to major works at Lennoxtown, Barrowfield and Celtic Park while the sales of Jota and Carl Starfelt financed 10 signings with none of them improving the Starting XI with only Luis Palma playing regularly.

That level of recruitment has resulted in slipping into second place in the SPFL Premiership, an early League Cup knock-out from Kilmarnock and bottom place confirmed in the Champions League after Matchday 5 in a group without any superclub opponents.

When Brendan Rodgers agreed to return as manager it was with a real expectation of a push to improve in Europe. Sutton and others looked forward to see what that would look like but this season’s Champions League campaign looked doomed from Matchday 1 when Feyenoord won comfortably with Gus Lagerbielke and Odin Thiaho Holm sent off.

Taking comfort from winning a dead-rubber against Feyenoord, in the Interim Report Lawwell claimed:

Although disappointed by the second-round exit of the League Cup away to Kilmarnock, we looked forward to our Champions League draw against Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid and Lazio. We achieved four points in the group stages and, whilst representing an improvement over last season’s two points, we finished fourth in the group stage. We took consolation from a number of good performances which will serve our squad well, but our objective is to keep improving and competing in Europe.

Even the most blinkered and optimistic fan would struggle to take much in the way of positives from those six matches.

Kyogo Furuhashi scored two good goals but has lacked service in domestic matches, Matt O’Riley looked good in most of the matches but that has already attracted an offer from Atletico Madrid who are likely to return in the summer with an increased bid.

Taking issue with Lawwell’s claims, in the Daily Record Sutton fired back with:

Just like the transfer talk, the European comments baffled me. The chairman’s statement talked of taking consolation from a number of good performances which will serve our squad well.

How does finishing bottom of a gentle group serve a squad well? Am I missing something? This season’s Champions League was a wasted opportunity and would have done more harm than good, I suspect.

In terms of an exciting new format in European football, Celtic fans are looking at their club, with cash in the attic, having their automatic place in next season’s major competition put into jeopardy from a position of strength. I don’t feel there was enough in there to satisfy a support which is deeply unhappy at the events of the past few months.

After two dismal Champions League campaigns expectations among supporters has dropped markedly among fans.

The days of Sutton and Henrik Larsson fearing no-one at Celtic Park has evolved into visits to the east end of Glasgow being highly anticipated by clubs across Europe as they get to experience an iconic stadium with a strong likelihood of picking up three points.

Copenhagen and PSV Eindhoven are involved in the last 16 of the Champions League, Feyenoord picked up six points this season, a total that it took Celtic two campaigns and match 12 to reach.

In many areas such as income and support Celtic are bigger than any of those three clubs but haven’t made any impact in the Champions League group stage in more than a decade with two wins in that time, away to Anderlecht in 2017 and the dead-rubber victory over Feyenoord in December.

Lawwell apparently takes consolation from a number of good performances in these seasons competition, right now it is looking unlikely that Celtic will be competing in next season’s new look Champions League- with increased matches and finacial rewards.

CLICK HERE for the Interim Report in full.

CLICK HERE for McGowan’s rainy day forecast.

07.11.2012 Glasgow, Scotland. Green Brigade pre match display in action during the Champions League game between Celtic and Barcelona from Celtic Park.
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