It’s the second year running they’ve missed out on the riches of the group stage of Europe’s top competition and the manner of their capitulation would have been hugely worrying for fans.
Romanian champions Cluj were never going to be a walkover but after a 1-1 draw at home in the first leg manager Dan Petrescu said it would take a “miracle” for his side to progress.
They got that at Celtic Park in a farcical game that saw Neil Lennon’s men lose the lead twice before crashing out in a 4-3 defeat.
Sutton blamed the past two transfer windows and said, “This day was always coming”. He also said “That’s the Tierney money gone tonight”, in reference to the money the club will lose from not progressing to the group stage of Europe’s top competition.
Celtic will now have to play with Rangers in the Europa League with two play-off games scheduled for the 22nd and 29th of August.
That’s the Tierney money gone tonight… the messing about in the last few windows has bitten Celtic on the backside… this day was always coming…
— Chris Sutton (@chris_sutton73) August 13, 2019
Who was to blame?
Celtic’s board has been criticised for their transfer business over recent windows but they should still have had enough to deal with Cluj.
It’s tough to single out one player from a performance so wretched (and fingers have to be pointed at goalkeeper Scott Bain too) but Scott Brown put in a head-scratchingly bad performance.
With just over 15 minutes left and Celtic winning, Brown decided to palm a corner away from a Cluj player, gifting the away side a penalty and a way back into the game.
Only Brown can explain what was going through his head at that moment.
— Scott Murphy (@_ScottMurphy) August 13, 2019
Neil Lennon has to shoulder some of the blame too.
He made an inexplicable decision to leave left-back Boli Bolingoli (signed for £3m this summer) on the bench and play midfielder Callum McGregor there instead.
That took McGregor’s influence in the middle of the park out of the game and led to space which Cluj exploited well.
It was a shambles all round for Celtic.