THERE now will be plenty of talk about why and indeed how Celtic couldn’t get past a good but far from great team in AEK Athens, and incidentally well done to them, a club with nowhere near the same financial resources as the Scottish champions.

Brendan Rodgers didn’t have a good January during that transfer window, and that's being kind, while Celtic as a club have fallen well short of what they should have done during the summer.

Oh, and there are some players on big money who are simply not doing it.

Is it a disaster? Of course not. But it is one hell of a disappointment and you could argue with some vigour that it was avoidable.


Five Things We Learned

1. Celtic’s recruitment has to be better. A lot better

Marvin Compper is going to go down in Celtic infamy along with Martin Hayes, Wayne Biggins and more recently Derk Boerrigter.

They questions will be as follows: Why was he there? Who on earth signed him? And what did he look like again?

We can go on and on about what did and did not happen since this summer window opened, and we will, but let’s go back to January when the Celtic supporters were told signings had been with both eyes on these very qualifiers.

Jack Hendry might come good but it was asking far too much of him to step up at this level. Same, too, Scott Bain and Lewis Morgan who didn’t feature in this match.

And then there is the experienced German centre-half Compper who was going to be perfect in the sense that he had seen it all before and could be the lead in a back four or three which seriously could have done with a leader.

As someone at Celtic told me: “He genuinely can’t run.” Not good, not good at all.

With Dedryck Boyata always going to struggle to be up to full fitness by this stage, and that was without all the nonsense surrounding him, the club always needed at least one more first-team defender.

Someone has dropped the ball.

Is it just me or would Erik Sviatchenko been a better bet last night than both Hendry and Jozo Simunovic?

2. Celtic needs Neil Lennon

Not as manager, although that still might happen sometime soon, but that team is badly missing a defensive midfielder who will sit in front of the defence.

Every side has them, from Real Madrid to France. Celtic do not. It’s a puzzle.

In domestic football, such a player might not be required; however, in Europe it is essential and while Scott Brown doesn’t bomb forward so much, he’s not a natural ‘Lenny’ which is exactly what Celtic need.

Every goal, even really good ones, are preventable and having a clever reader of the game sitting deep, picking up loose balls and marking men everyone has forgotten about, does cut down the goals against.

The AEK goal in Glasgow and in the first in this game came about because nobody got out or got back to mark the goalscorer who was lurking on the edge of the box.

Lots of European teams these days play on the counter-attack and when that happens the defending team do tend to need a player who can get back to make that tackle. It’s a thought.

3. It is NOT a disaster

This is important. I have even put the ‘not’ in capitals so everyone gets it.

Celtic are a Champions League club but a Europe League team. They will (honestly) get past either Sudova of Lithuania or Latvia’s Spartaks Jurmala to reach the group stage of Europe’s other competition.

There they might win a few games. You never know, with a couple of good signings this Celtic team should qualify out of the group stage and then we will see what happens.

The Brendan Rodgers’s juggernaut was always going to hit a wall - this might be it and nobody has died.

Two Champions League group stages and a decent run in the Europa League – if that’s what happens – is more than any Celtic manager could expect in 2018 from three seasons.

4. They need to get better at set-pieces….goals can come from such situations

If the World Cup taught us anything it’s that even really, really good football teams rely a lot on their goals coming from corners and free-kicks or the direct and in-direct variety.

A couple of decent Leigh Griffiths’s crosses aside, Celtic are some way from being dangerous at set-pieces.

Where are the shots to test the keeper? Why are crosses going to the back post when everyone is at the front? This is something which has to be sorted out.

And as for defending such situations; a lot of work has to be done on the training field.

5. Get Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor on the best contracts at the club - now

These two local lads, graduates from the academy, are Celtic’s best players. These qualifiers have shown that.

From first to last in Athens, this duo gave off the impression, far more than anyone else, that they were willing to get on the ball and make something happen.

If clubs in Europe, not just England, aren’t scouting both McGregor – Tierney is watched every week – they are missing a trick.

Neither should be allowed to leave for less than £25m. Actually, neither should be allowed to leave.