LONDON: Former player Roy Keane has insisted Celtic need to do a “lot better” in Europe following their 7-0 loss away to Spanish giants Barcelona in the Champions League.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers tried to insist the defeat at the Camp Nou was not an embarrassment. But as far as one-time Celtic midfielder Keane was concerned, Rodgers’ words were concerning.
Celtic were the first British team to win the then European Cup in 1967, but for all their domestic dominance in recent seasons they have failed to make much of an impact upon the Champions League.
And Keane said the way Celtic celebrated their qualification for the main draw of the Champions League proper after scraping a 5-4 aggregate win over unheralded Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva was troubling.
After watching a Rodgers interview, Keane — who turned down the chance to manage Celtic in 2014 — told ITV: “I know it’s difficult after a game, and if you have an off night in Barcelona you are in big trouble.
“But on one hand we are being told that Celtic are a great club, great traditions, great history and they go and lose 7-0 to Barcelona and people almost say, ‘Well these things happen, it’s acceptable’,” said Keane.
“He (Rodgers) spoke about the game the previous week against Rangers. They won 5-1 against one of the worst Rangers teams I have seen in a long time, who finished with 10 men for the last 15-20 minutes. So that idea they were tired as well….
“All I hear sometimes when people talk about Celtic is about winning the league, but I think they need to do a lot better in Europe. It’s easier said than done of course and this time round it’s obviously difficult with the group they are in.”
The former Manchester United star added: “But even in the qualifying games they were poor. They scraped through and didn’t win any of their away games.
“I think the whole mindset has to change and don’t accept, particularly away from home, being the whipping boys of Europe.”
Celtic suffered a shock 1-0 loss away to Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps in the first leg of their opening qualifier before seeing off the part-timers 3-0 in the second leg.
They then beat Astana 2-1 on aggregate to set up the tie with Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
“It’s Celtic, a huge club, and they need to do a lot better,” said Keane, the Republic of Ireland assistant manager.
“Even when they qualified for this group the celebrations were way over the top. They scraped through and I thought they’d actually won the competition.”