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Celtic players were an embarrassment but buck stops with boss Brendan Rodgers

By Steven Beacom

Brendan Rodgers was the man supposed to provide all the answers for Celtic. One game into the Carnlough native's reign as manager of the Hoops, after taking over from the under-performing Ronny Deila, and there are more questions than ever.

Reason: Lincoln Red Imps 1-0 Celtic.

Beaten in the Champions League by a bunch of part-timers!

Staggering - call it the shock of Gibraltar!

Humiliating too.

And embarrassing for the Bhoys even if Brendan didn't agree in his post-match interviews.

The second-leg in Glasgow is in a week's time and Celtic, despite being total garbage last night, will surely ease into the third qualifying round of the competition, but their fans won't forget this desperate defeat in a hurry.

The former Liverpool manager was determined to hit the ground running in his new post.

Instead, his team hit an all-time low in the history of the iconic club.

Losing to a team like Lincoln Red Imps is unacceptable.

If the Irish League winners Crusaders were defeated in the Champions League by a side from Gibraltar, they would be hammered, so Celtic deserve all the criticism coming their way.

Too often in recent times Celtic players have let the club down.

This was another case in point.

Scott Brown likes to see himself as an inspirational captain yet he went missing so much during the game, you could have been forgiven for thinking he was playing a continental version of hide and seek.

He wasn't alone in not stepping up to the mark.

No wonder the Celtic followers who had spent money to travel to Gibraltar were furious with the players representing them on the pitch.

Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are more popular with organisers of the Olympic Games in Rio at the moment!

When chances came for the visitors they were wasted and when they had to defend, they made a mess of that as well.

Efe Ambrose's attempt to challenge Lee Casciaro just before he scored was laughable.

An even bigger joke was why Ambrose started in the first place. He's been a mistake waiting to happen for months.

The Celtic players were dreadful but Rodgers will know, as boss, the buck ultimately stops with him.

And suddenly he has a lot of making up to do to the Celtic supporters who welcomed him so warmly to the club.

Right now he will feel like he has all those monkeys in Gibraltar that tourists love on his back.

Back in May, the Ulsterman breezed in, ready to change the scratched record that had been playing while Deila was in charge.

Last night it seemed as if the needle had stuck.

Rodgers must ensure he gets a proper tune out of his team in the weeks and months ahead otherwise what he saw as a dream move a couple of months ago could turn into a nightmare.

A policeman netted the winner against the Bhoys in Gibraltar.

Celtic supporters will demand that Rodgers lays down the law to the failing players and just as importantly to the board to get their finger out and start spending some money to bring quality players in to improve the squad.

Ironically, the powerbrokers at Parkhead would prefer to wait until qualification for the lucrative Champions League group stages is secured before dipping their hands in their pockets.

Rodgers was brought in with the primary aim to make an impact in Europe and bring those big nights back, but this was not the start the county Antrim man envisaged when he took his place in the dug-out at Victoria Stadium last night.

The only bright spot for Brendan is that it can't get any worse.

He must not allow it to.

Belfast Telegraph


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