The Board, Brendan And Boyata All To Blame For Celtic’s Greek Tragedy

Celtic were dumped out of the Champions League last night, after losing 2-1 to AEK Athens in Greece.

To most Celtic fans and observers of Scottish football, they weren’t overly surprised by the outcome. Mainly because The Hoops have the same flaws that they’ve had for many years now.

I think that the board, the club’s manager Brendan Rodgers and defender Dedryck Boyata have to accept that they were largely responsible for the side’s exit from Europe’s elite club competition before the lucrative group stages.


Probably for the last ten years I’ve been critical of the way Celtic do their transfer business.

Now they have a very good scouting system and have brought in some extremely talented players in recent years but they continue to bring in new signings later on in the window. They basically try and hold off until they’ve qualified for the Champions League group stage.

This summer they’ve only brought in three players, two of which just joined the Hoops in the last week.

They broke their transfer record to bring in Odsonne Edouard earlier in the summer, but that’s mainly down to the fact that they had already agreed a negotiated fee with PSG for the striker and had they waited longer the fee could’ve risen. The other new arrival is old boy Emilio Izaguirre, the thirty-two year old Honduran returns to provide back up for Kieran Tierney at left-back.

That business hasn’t been good enough for the Scottish champions.

Anyone and everyone could’ve told you that the Glasgow giants needed another experienced centre-back and a right-back to strengthen the defence, which has been the club’s weakest-link for while now. Yet Celtic have hardly been linked with any new defensive recruits in recent weeks.

They lost in Athens, not because AEK were a much better team, but because they were hopeless at the back and couldn’t defend simple balls into their penalty area.

Why haven’t the board come out and backed their manager? 

Look at the John McGinn transfer.

Celtic made a couple of bids and they fell well short of Hibs valuation of the midfielder. Celtic’s board decided to sit back and thought they could wait and get him to sign a pre-contract agreement in January. Then Aston Villa swooped, made an offer acceptable to Hibs and suddenly the player was on his way to Birmingham. Celtic then matched the bid but by that time they were too late and the Scottish international star decided to sign for the English Championship side. The board were too cautious/arrogant and not ambitious enough and that cost them one of Rodgers’ top targets.

After last night’s defeat Rodgers stated:

“(the club had to) always guard against becoming complacent”.

“You do that by adding to the squad,”

“It’s pretty obvious, you have to keep progressing and keep getting stronger.”

The board have been complacent and they need to answer fans question as to why they were so slow in the transfer market this summer?

They now need to convince the manager that they can meet his ambitions, if they can’t then he’ll look elsewhere and that Celtic fans will turn on the board!


While I have sympathies for Brendan on having to deal with an ultra cautious board, the manager has to accept that he too has to be held accountable for the club’s Champions League exit.

Has the defence really improved under the current boss? Has any defender, bought during his tenure, arrived and improved the team? I really don’t think so.

Rodgers is very much about playing possession football and an exciting attacking game. That’s fine, on the most part, when it comes to dominating the Scottish game but it can come undone in Europe. The manager doesn’t have a Plan B that involves seeing games out and turning to backs to the wall type defending.

In the last two seasons under Rodgers, Celtic’s footballing philosophy and expansive game saw them suffer from heavy defeats to Barcelona, PSG, Bayern Munich and Zenit St Petersburg. They’ve also lost games to Lincoln Red Imps, Astana, Anderlecht, Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Borussia Monchengladbach.

There should be a time when you close up shop to gain a positive result.

A stubborn manager can often lead to his team’s downfall and Brendan is essentially still making mistakes at Celtic that he made previously at Liverpool.


The Belgian defender clearly wants to leave Celtic Park this month, his agent will tell any hack or any potential suitor as much.

Boyata had a good World Cup, has only twelve months left on his current deal and interest is said to be high. So I can understand why he’d want to leave for a new challenge. Yet as far as I can see Dedryck hasn’t handed in a transfer request and, in truth, he should’ve told the club he wanted to leave as soon as his World Cup adventure finished.

But until Celtic agree to sell him, then he’s a club employee and has to honour his contract.

His agent came out this week with a thinly veiled threat, suggesting that the player won’t play for the club:

“Dedryck cannot put his future and his family’s future in danger by playing without being 100 per cent. On January 1, he will sign elsewhere by being free, without reporting anything to Celtic.”

That’s a ridiculously unprofessional statement. It was followed up upon by Boyata failing to fly out with the rest of the squad for their huge European encounter.

His absence in Athens raised more than just a few eyebrows and many a Celtic supporter felt he’d downed tools. The player denied this:

“Unfortunately, I could not play because I’m not yet 100% operational,”

Brendan Rodgers would counter this by telling reporters in Greece:

“But yes, Dedryck would have been fit to play.”

Basically The Hoops boss has called the player out. Interestingly Boyata said he wasn’t 100% but his agent also said that he couldn’t play at even 95% to protect his future.

Now here’s the thing Dedryck, you’ve been very rarely fit at Celtic. In fact you’ve missed 56 games due to injury since you arrived in 2015!

Yet your manager, your teammates and the club’s fans have backed you and supported you during those tough times. The club always paid your wages and secure that future your agent is so desperate to protect now. They gave you the platform to shine and win your place in the Belgian World Cup squad.

To turn down the chance to play for Celtic in the Champions League is a disgrace and it will impact on your reputation.

What serious buyer wants to sign a player that turns his back on those that have helped him?


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