Celtic fans would have gone into the game full of confidence and come out of it deflated and looking for answers.
More often than not a 90th minute European winner would be a cause for ecstasy and celebration. Tonight’s 1-0 win over Riga though brings with it a sense of relief more than anything as Celtic put in another terrible performance in Europe and managed to do just enough to scrap through into the next round of the Europa League qualifiers.
Yes, a win is a win. But the performances this season have been mostly terrible and it is clear that some changes need to be made to this side. These recent displays have been disheartening more than anything.
The club currently sit just one point off the top of the table in the Premiership but that is to be expected considering the gulf in quality of players. And even then they have struggled in a number of games to find a way past opponents.
In Europe, the story is just awful. For three straight seasons the club have crashed out of UEFA Champions League qualification. And after tonight’s performance, most Celtic fans would have a hard time being confident that they’ll even make the Europa League this season.
Of course, the players have not been good enough. But then Neil Lennon has to take a large part of the blame as well.
Very often his tactics just seem to negative in Europe. For some reason, he does not play two out and out strikers in European competition even when the opposition is not very strong and the formation has produced good results in domestic competition.
There is also his insistence on somehow finding a way to shoehorn James Forrest into the side. Jeremie Frimpong is brilliant as a wingback and is often a standout player when played there, including tonight after coming on in place of the injured Forrest.
Then there’s the Greg Taylor problem, which is not Neil Lennon’s doing. The Scot is just not at the level to regularly play for Celtic yet. And against teams lying deep, Mohamed Elyounoussi probably would be a much better option as not much defending would be needed.
Whatever may be the case, it is clear that some changes need to be made. Sticking to these ways and expecting different results would be absolute madness. It is not working and it is time to accept it.