Gordon Strachan: Transfer policy isn’t to blame for Celtic’s CL exit

In his first column for Paddy Power News, Gordon Strachan reflects on a bad night for the Hoops...


The impact of Celtic going out of the Champions League has reverberated around Scottish football. It’s mayhem.

You think there are big teams which come under scrutiny in England, but nothing comes close to what is going on at Celtic at the moment – everyone asking why and how.

And, as a manager, you have to take the hit, unfortunately for Brendan. I did the same. My first game for Celtic was in Bratislava, and we got beat 5-0. Our right back had joined that day, it was the left back’s first game, and our centre back didn’t turn up for training, so we were in a bit of turmoil.

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So I’ve been in Brendan Rodgers’s shoes this week. I know what it’s like, it’s not pleasant, but he can deal with it. What advice would I give him? Sleep through till Friday!

No, it’s like everything as the Celtic manager: you get up, brush yourself down, walk in there with the eyes of the nation on you, and you deal with it.

Brendan has done it before at other clubs. You get back on there and face the challenge that’s coming. He knows that, he’s a top manager.

Everyone at Celtic knows to expect it. The players, coaches, manager and board will have known, as they were on the plane home from Athens, that they’d be facing a rocky couple of days.

The only way to deal with a crisis is by playing – and the best part will be getting on with the football on Saturday.

I do feel for Celtic, though, because I do believe they should be in the Champions League group stage, because they make it better – and they’re far better than AEK.

Transfers not to blame for exit

There’ll be people saying “they should’ve signed this one or that one”, and I can see why you’d ask those questions, but there were a couple of injuries.

You can’t blame the board for that, or for Dedryck Boyata not wanting to play. As far as I know, Peter Lawwell, Brian Wilson and Dermot Desmond have never played in defence.

I’ve been there to deal with the board, and they tell you how much you can spend, and you have to stick to that.

They want to sign players, of course they do, but it’s not always that easy. They’re protecting an institution, and they cannot risk it. You saw what happened with Rangers, where they almost lost their club, and Celtic can never put themselves in that position. You have to balance between what you can afford and what’s acceptable.

I do understand where Brendan is coming from. I’ve been there many times, where you think you could do with strengthening. But I also think that if Brendan had a fully fit squad last night, they would’ve won, no bother.

I sat there, before the match, thinking ‘this isn’t going to be a problem for Celtic’. Even when AEK Athens scored early, I still thought Celtic controlled the game, and had a couple of good chances. That game was never an issue. There was never anything in the AEK team to give Celtic a real problem. On a night when Celtic are finishing better, with a full side, that was a game they would have won, that’s for sure.

I can’t see Brendan going anywhere. I hope he doesn’t, because Celtic and Brendan Rodgers are a great fit.

On Boyata: even good lads go AWOL

I’ve been in this situation before, where players act very strange. Good lads, who previously have no record of misbehaviour, suddenly become a problem for the dressing room.

You’d be surprised at some of the players who’ve done it, who’ve caused a bit of a problem, despite being genuinely decent fellas.

Even smashing lads, if they see an opportunity to better themselves, can act very strange. It’s human nature.

As manager, you have to decide whether you get them out or make them play.

Celtic are favourites to win the 2018/19 Scottish Premiership on paddypower.com

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