'Celtic board's lack of investment to blame for Champions League exit'
'This club is miles away from where they were two years ago...'
Last Updated: 27/08/14 11:41am
Celtic ‘are miles away’ from being Champions League regulars because of the board’s refusal to invest in top talent, says Charlie Nicholas.
The Scottish champions dropped into the Europa League after losing 1-0 to Maribor at Celtic Park, to go down 2-1 on aggregate in the Champions League qualifying play-off stages.
Nicholas, who won four major honours with Celtic, was heavily critical of those in charge at his old club in the wake of the defeat saying that the Bhoys won’t recapture the glory days of wins such as their 2-1 victory over Barcelona in 2012-13 until the club is prepared to spend big on players.
Speaking to Jeff Stelling on Champions League Goals, Nicholas said: “The only interest of the board members is cash – finance, that’s all it is. That’s why they spent £2.5m on budget players who don’t have any experience of the Champions League format.
“They sold the England international goalkeeper Fraser Forster because they thought they were out of the competition and there’s every chance that Virgil van Dijk could be sold but his price has plummeted.
“This club is miles away from where they were two years ago. The quality they’ve brought in is very, very poor indeed. They don’t give any decent youngsters coming through an opportunity – or they certainly don’t give it to them often enough.
“They are miles away from being good enough. But in the cold light of day what’s going to happen is that the fans are going to turn on the owners and they won’t be turning up for a lot of the games, so Celtic can virtually write off the trust that the fans were giving them.”
Manager Ronnie Deila admitted his side weren't good enough after the 1-0 defeat, adding “We didn't lose because of the defending, we lost because we didn't create anything”.
Although a section of supporters booed their team off the pitch at the final whistle, Nicholas believes the majority of Celtic fans will not blame their manager for the defeat – although the Soccer Saturday pundit did question whether Deila is right to prioritise fitness over flair.
The board just won’t break their budget and that’s crazy because they’ve got cash in the bank.
“I personally don’t think that this causes a major hassle for him. The fans will not blame him,” said the Scot.
“Since he’s moved into the position he’s promised ‘Celtic-style’ football – they pass, they move and it’s exciting; that’s what brings the public in but this Celtic board refuses to go and spend a bit of cash for somebody that is a little bit special. They just won’t break their budget and that’s crazy because they’ve got cash in the bank.
“The fans will ask ‘is it really the manager’s fault?’ Neil Lennon walked away from this job, which is unheard of for a Celtic manager.
“I think Kris Commons is their most creative player but then Ronnie Deila spoke the other week about fitness and Commons is probably one of the least fit players.
“So what do you want to sacrifice? What about the passing and the creative side of the game that he’s promised but so far hasn’t delivered? He has chopped and changed this team a lot.”
Watch Arsenal take on Besiktas in the Champions League from 7pm tonight on Sky Sports 5 then catch the Group Stage draw from 4.30pm on Thursday on Sky Sports News HQ.