To be fair it was always going to be an uphill struggle to claw back a 4-1 first leg deficit but Celtic fans believed that their side could. Unfortunately what they saw in the return leg last night was a team who didn’t believe they could. Celtic crashed to a 2-0 defeat sending them spiraling out of Europe’s top club tournament and heaping early pressure on new boss Ronny Deila. The nature of their performance will startle the Norwegian boss who was hoping more for a rampant show but instead witnessed a half hearted effort as if defeat was inevitable.
His opposite number, former Rangers defender Henning Berg organized his team well but they look relaxed knowing the damage had already been done in the first leg. In the end the two strikes – one in the 36th minute from Michal Zyro and one on the 61st minute mark from Michal Kucharczyk merely put the icing on the cake for Legia Warsaw. The Polish side will face tougher opposition in the group stage but it’s unlikely that they will face one weaker than Celtic were. In the post match interview, Deila spoke of his disappointment but remained optimistic for the future:
“It was not good enough. They got two easy goals, again, and that’s worrying me. We just have to say we lost to the better team. The boys want to play better. We are very disappointed. We’re going to rise up and we’re going to perform much better, win the league again, and next year in this situation we’re going to go through”
For the current Scottish champions, the effects of the defeat will be felt in the weeks and months ahead. Starved of the £15million reward they would have earned by reaching the Champions’ League group stage, Celtic may have to adjust its future transfer plans. The likelihood of star players Frazer Forster and Virgil Van Dijk sticking around is fading fast with both expected to depart before the transfer window shuts. They might not be the only ones to leave as failure to reach Europe’s top table will cause others to question their own futures.
Rightly or wrongly questions are being raised about Deila and his abilities to deliver on the other club targets this season. With Rangers still dwelling in the lower divisions and now joined by both Edinburgh sides, Hearts and Hibernian following their relegations, few would have picked anyone but Celtic to win next seasons Scottish Premiership title. But given the nature of Celtics collapse against a beatable Warsaw side, perhaps the title race isn’t as cut and dry as once though. Aberdeen has strengthened well over the summer with the arrival of David Goodwillie and could challenge whilst Dundee United and Motherwell both have the capabilities to surprise. Failure to win the league is not an option for Deila who is now under the microscope once again.
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