Okay, so that’s not entirely true, in some respects, everything has changed. Yesterday I sulked in bed until late afternoon. I came on here to vent some of my frustrations about the way things were going at Celtic, and I was generally in a foul mood for the rest of the day. The day, but not the night. As soon as I saw the rumours circulating on twitter about the possibility that Legia Warsaw had fielded an ineligible player on Wednesday night my mood began to lift. Could we be about to benefit from another Sion? A few drinks in the pub later (I’m allowed to still pretend to be a student for a while yet) and I headed to bed giddy as an excited child on Christmas Eve.
The confirmation that we have been reinstated into the Champions League has left me on cloud nine since the news broke this morning. I even woke up at 9am in anticipation. Anyone else who’s unemployed, or who has been at some point in their life, will understand just how much of an achievement it is to wake up at that ungodly hour.
Since I’ve started my decline back down to earth I have began to realise that, regarding where we are as a club, nothing has changed. But we have been given a huge chance. A lifeline to save our season. We are now guaranteed to play at least Europa League football this year, provided Legia aren’t successful in their appeal. Because of this we will raise a minimum of €3,400,000 in prize money from UEFA (€2,100,000 for UCL Play-Off & €1,300,000 for UEL Group Stage). Make the Champions League proper and you can add another €8,600,000 to that sum. Win or lose against Maribor, there will be three more European games at Celtic Park this season, which too means more cash for the club.
To the great surprise of, well, nobody, it is widely being reported tonight that we have accepted a £10m bid from Southampton for Fraser Forster. After all the fans frustrations recently, the guarantee of more UEFA prize money, the incoming cash from Forster’s sale, and the humiliation we suffered at the hands of Legia Warsaw, even us, Celtic, will now surely make some signings before we face Maribor. I believe we have until 11pm on Wednesday night to register players for the next phase. I expect (well hope) that it’ll be a busy weekend for Ronny Deila and Peter Lawell. I cannot claim to be an expert on Maribor, in fact, I’ll admit I haven’t got the slightest clue about them. My only brief knowledge is that they provided me and every other Celtic fan with great amusement when they dumped Rangers out of Europe in 2011. However, if they do the same to us in the coming weeks it’ll be no laughing matter. It doesn’t matter how good or bad a side they are, if we play how we did in our two games against Legia then being dumped out of the Champions League is exactly what will happen to us.
The footballing Ghods have given Celtic a fantastic opportunity. We have five days to strengthen the squad for Maribor. We have twelve to be ready for the first leg. Our challenge has been set. Improve the team, get them prepared properly for the play-offs, and qualify for the Champions League. Do this and it’s not only our season that has been saved, but potentially Ronny Deila and Peter Lawell’s futures at Celtic. You cannot make the same mistakes over and over again without suffering the consequences. If we go out to Maribor without making any significant signings somebody will have to pay the price and I don’t think it’ll be Deila’s head the fans will call for. This time Celtic please, please, learn from your mistakes. We couldn’t have asked for better luck today. Let’s not let this chance slip again.