The European problem - why the Bhoys haven't progressed

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    Nov 28, 2017
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    The European problem - why the Bhoys haven't progressed

    Photo by Ailura / CC BY-SA 3.0
    Scott scoring in a European Final is the stuff of dreams.

    It’s been something of an issue for quite some time now, and year on year it seems to be getting worse. Yes, we’re talking about our European progress, or lack of it over the last few seasons. So, what is it about playing European teams that sees the team we love apparently chasing shadows and scraping through ties that we should be winning?

    What happened to those great European nights?

    AC Milan, Barcelona, Man United, and Liverpool have all tasted defeat at Parkhead in the past, but why can’t we do it against the likes of Red Bull Salzburg? There are those who’ll say that the Scottish league is a step down from Europe’s elite league, and we can understand why they’d feel that way. But the truth is that the Scottish League has no less quality running through its teams these days as it did back when we beat Barcelona.

    It seems like something is missing from the squad that you just can’t train into a team. When we’re up against a Scottish opponent, there’s no doubting the passion and fight across the team. But the pride just doesn’t seem to be there when we play in Europe. Could it be a motivational aspect that is lacking in Brendan’s man management? Or could it be that his backroom staff aren’t quite as dedicated to the task of analysing European opponents as they are domestic rivals?

    [​IMG] Photo by Debbie Mc / CC BY 2.0

    Caption - We'll never forget Lisbon.

    Rodger’s European record at Liverpool was pretty poor, with two round of 32 Europa League exits a massive blot on his otherwise successful stint at Anfield. Far be it from us to question the boss and his methods, he is, after all, doing a great job, but it’s telling that his European record at both Liverpool and Celtic marks his teams as underachievers. Could it really be all down to a lack of knowledge relating to European opponents?

    Can we dream?

    Whatever it is that’s stopping us from hitting top gear in Europe, it hasn’t derailed us entirely. Three wins and three defeats certainly isn’t cup-winning form, but we’re still in with a shout over two legs against Valencia. The Spanish side lie 7th in La Liga with their stuttering league form seeing them draw eleven matches so far and lose four. They’re a shadow of their former selves and hopefully we can take advantage of their poor form.

    Should we make it past Valencia, then we simply have to dream. A league and European double might be the football accumulator to end all accas, and half of Glasgow would be all over that! Is it likely though? Chelsea, Napoli, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Lazio, and Sevilla pose the biggest threats to our chance to make a first European final since 2003, but if Rodgers can just put the fire in the Bhoys bellies then maybe we really can dream. And that brings us to our next point on Brendan’s approach.

    More analysis, please

    We’re not really sure what goes on behind closed doors and on the training ground, but it seems like it’s not working. Perhaps it’s time for the backroom staff to adopt a similar approach to that of Marco Bielsa at Leeds. No, we’re not suggesting drones over training grounds or spying from the bushes. We’re talking about Bielsa’s obsession with stats and analysis.

    A deeper analysis of how the two Red Bull teams approached their European and domestic opponents would have at the very least given us a better chance of getting something out of our defeats. Players who know their opponents inside out are better equipped to deal with the pressure of these big European nights. Knowing that 9 times out of 10 a player will cut inside to cross, instead of trying to beat their man, could be the difference that we’re talking about. Could O’Neill’s approach to opponent analysis be that different to Brendan’s?

    Again, we’re not blaming Brendan for the team’s poor results in Europe. We’re just trying our best to figure out exactly what it is that keeps going wrong. The buck stops with the manager and to be fair, whatever he is doing to prepare the team for European nights simply isn’t working. Time to change it up please.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
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