When the ball hit the back of the net in the dying minutes against Dundee United the roar from Celtic Park could be heard across Glasgow. It was pure magic and set up the big game against the Rangers in front of 60,000 Celtic fans. It was a special night and style shown on that night continued as Celtic travelled on the Sunday to Motherwell.
Aberdeen was the next midweek stop for Celtic fans and in the first half it was business as usual as Ange Postecoglou’s bhoys turned on the style only for Aberdeen to rip up the script and come out fighting in the second half before Celtic finally got over the line with a 3-2 win which sent us all down the road happy with the 3 points but we all knew that we would have more hard battles in the next few months if we are to become Champions this season.
We finally saw a different side to Ange last Sunday when the big cuddle bear showed his claws. A half full Celtic Park saw him lose the plot briefly with his players from his position outside the dugout for a lacklustre first half performance against Raith Rovers. Celtic were much better in the second half after his team talk and some changes in personal and we progressed to the next round of the Scottish Cup to set up an away day in Dundee against United next month.
At the post press conference after the game Ange answered the media questions and told us how he felt about players not putting in a full shift. The conference was brief before Raith manager John McGlynn took his seat and praised his players for their efforts and his travelling fans vocal support.
I asked John did he think the closure of the singing section helped his team in the first half and he thought it did. It was a question I also asked Liam Scales and he answered by saying the team thrive off the noise and atmosphere created in that corner and on Wednesday both Ultra groups tried their best to lift the crowd but only a Maeda goal brought the stadium to life and that was short lived when Bodo went 3-1 up almost straight away.
Ange seemed upbeat and confident when he spoke to us on Wednesday ahead of the game as did Giorgos Giakoumakis and I suppose we were as fans with too much talk of the Ross County game being moved if we won, there was talk of the St. Johnstone game being moved to Sunday in April and even talk of the price of flights to Albania for the final!
There was no real buzz around Glasgow ahead of the match as I walked through it on Thursday afternoon it did not have that match day feel normally associated with big European nights. Was it the unknown opposition from Norway that did not get the juices flowing or was it because it was in the new third tier European competition or did some fans see it as a distraction from our league tile aspirations?
What ever it was something was missing on the night as the Green Brigade paid tribute to the manager with another fantastic display. Scarfs were raised above our heads and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was belted out before both teams took to the field for the team pictures.
The Bodo team gathered at their dugout and did a huddle with the subs, management and backroom team at the same time that the Celtic players were doing the huddle in the usual spot but the lights were not dropped and there was no glowing beam focusing on our bhoys like we had witnessed against the Rangers as they stood in the dark.
We have come a long way under Ange after the mess he took over when he arrived but on Thursday and have now realised how far we have to go if we are to compete in Europe against a decent team who beat Roma 5-1 but are still in pre-season and failed to win an away match in the Europa group stages.
I think we all expected more from Celtic who were second best all night. Celtic Park was half empty at full time as the Celtic players took applause from the remaining fans who stayed to clap them off the field while Bodo celebrated with their 800 travelling fans who will have enjoyed their visit to Glasgow.
We have given ourselves a mountain to climb in the Artic circle on a plastic pitch, the Charter flights are booked out and other fans are doing airport roulette to get there. Bodo are in the driving seat to progress and nothing that we witnessed from Celtic on Thursday would suggest that we can get a famous away win in Europe.
We all thought we had little chance in Germany after we took a hammering at home to Bayer Leverkusen but we went out there and played excellent until we ran out of steam and Ange had not the personnel on the bench to come on and make a difference and we lost after a great effort.
We will need to turn in another performance like that if we are to stand any chance of progressing in Europe its only half time as they say in these European ties.
Andrew Milne is Editor of More than 90 Minutes Celtic Fanzine which he started in 2001. He has been involved with fanzines since 1989 and has written for numerous publications and online about Celtic. He is a former newspaper columnist with the Daily Ireland and the man behind celticfanzine.com. He is host of the Celtic Soul Podcast, Talk form the Terrace Podcast, Grand Auld History Podcast & Celtic AM pre-match events at Murphy’s in Glasgow on match days and follows Celtic Home & Away. He is a season ticket holder for Celtic FC and the Republic of Ireland. He is also P.R.O. of St. Margaret’s CSC, a member of the Celtic Trust and the Celtic Graves Association.