Battered in Barcelona: Does Roy Keane Have a Point About Celtic?
- Celtic beaten 7-0 by Barcelona in their opening group game
- ITV pundit Roy Keane heavily criticised Celtic’s performance and mentality
- Fellow Chris Sutton dismissed Keane’s comments as short-sighted
- Manager Brendan Rodgers treating Celtic’s European campaign as a learning opportunity
- Should Celtic ever accept a 7-0 defeat?
Celtic came back down to earth with bump in the Nou Camp on Tuesday night. After the high of Saturday's 5-1 derby demolition against Rangers, the Hoops were hammered 7-0 by a rampant Barcelona side.
Excuses for the result and performance aren't difficult to come by. The Scottish champions were up against formidable opposition boasting one of the all-time great attacking line-ups - with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez all at their brilliant best.
Manager Brendan Rodgers insisted that his men had nothing to be embarrassed about after the defeat, but not everyone was so sympathetic. ITV pundit and Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane was predictably outspoken in his criticism, claiming that Celtic needed to change their mentality or risk becoming "whipping boys" of Europe.
Former Parkhead striker Chris Sutton - no stranger to a controversial opinion himself - called Keane's comments "short-sighted" and "unfair" in his newspaper column.
Many Celtic fans immediately went on the defensive against their former midfielder, taking aim at the Manchester United legend's own undistinguished track record in management.
Barca game aside, Rodgers has had as impressive start to life in Glasgow's East End, while Keane's unimpressive stints in charge of Sunderland and Ipswich offer little to suggest that he could lead a Celtic team to compete at the highest level against teams whose budgets dwarf that of the Parkhead outfit.
That doesn't mean that he doesn't have a point about Celtic's showing in the Catalan capital though.
While Barca's class is not in doubt, the men in green and white were complicit in their own downfall as they barely laid a glove on the side that they so memorably upset at Celtic Park four years ago.
Skipper Scott Brown and team-mates Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair have already publicly acknowledged the team's shortcomings on Tuesday night
While Barcelona are perhaps one of only a few teams in the world capable of hitting Celtic for seven in such a resounding manner, they aren't the first team this season to take advantage of the team's flaws.
Keane highlighted Celtic's poor away record in qualifying, where defeats to Lincoln Red Imps and Hapoel Be'er Sheva sandwiched a draw in Kazakhstan with Astana.
In their previous European away tie in Israel, Celtic were porous in defence and lacked composure in possession. That led to a 2-0 defeat and they were able to only just scrape through with an aggregate 5-4 victory.
Against Barca's array of superstars, it got a whole lot uglier. A similar level of performance won't be enough to pick up a result in Manchester or Moenchengladbach either.
None of this will be news to Rodgers, who will have been under no illusions that his side are anywhere near the finished article so early in his reign.
The Northern Irishman called this year's campaign "a brilliant learning opportunity" and Tuesday's display certainly left his men with plenty to learn from.
Celtic's manager will surely have told his players that to have any chance of a result in the Nou Camp they need to start solidly, minimise individual errors and take any chances that come their way.
Instead, Celtic conceded avoidable goals early in each half and striker Moussa Dembele missed a penalty with the score only at 1-0.
After Andres Iniesta made it 4-0 in the second period, a punch-drunk Celtic desperately need to steady themselves and regroup.
Instead Kieran Tierney, an outstanding young prospect who has barely put a foot wrong since breaking into the first team, gifted possession to the hosts inside his own half and within 76 seconds Suarez squared to Messi who made it five.
It was suicide against opponents of that calibre.
Despite the humbling result, the squad that Rodgers is assembling has the makings of being the best Celtic side in years.
In Roberts, Dembele, Sinclair, James Forrest and the absent Leigh Griffiths the Hoops have a genuinely exciting frontline, while Tierney and Erik Sviatchenko look like potential mainstays in defence alongside veteran Kolo Toure.
It would be an insult to the quality of these players, as well as the ability of Rodgers to make them better, to simply accept a 7-0 defeat against anyone as par for the course and move on.
But as Rodgers and many others have already pointed out, Celtic are far from the first side to be heavily beaten by Barca.
Luis Enrique's men are in the habit of hammering good teams - last season's victims included Roma (6-1), Deportivo (8-0), Sporting Gijon (6-0) and Valencia (7-0). Even the great Real Madrid were humbled 4-0 at home.
Madrid, though, ended last season as Champions League winners and extracted a measure of revenge with 2-1 win at Barcelona later in the season.
No one is expecting Celtic to bounce back in quite as spectacular style but a club of their stature should demand a positive response.
Celtic travel to Inverness on Sunday and you can expect to hear Rodgers' name ring out from the Hoops fans who have quickly taken the former Liverpool boss to their hearts.
Quite rightly too. Rodgers has already achieved his two major early season targets in style.
His team have qualified for the group stages of the Champions League after a painful three-year absence and firmly established their domestic dominance, all while playing an exciting brand of football that has thrilled their supporters.
A humbling defeat against one of Europe's all-time great sides is no reason to panic. Rodgers will continue to preach his brand of football and clearly believes in the ability of the group he has assembled.
No one at Parkhead is in need of one of Roy Keane's famous rollickings just yet. But if this talented squad are serious about reaching their potential, then then they would do well to take heed of his words.
The performance at the Nou Camp wasn't anywhere near good enough, and this team must do better.