John Collins hoping for another European campaign with Celtic

Celtic's players trudge off after Thursday night's Europa League defeat to Ajax
Picture by PA 
Ronnie Esplin

ASSISTANT manager John Collins hopes the Celtic management team get another crack at Europe next season.

Manager Ronny Deila's European record came under further scrutiny on Thursday night after the 2-1 defeat by Ajax at Parkhead kept them bottom of Group A with two points from five fixtures and confirmed their exit from the tournament ahead of their trip to Fenerbahce next month.

The Scottish champions have failed to qualify for the Champions League under the Norwegian for two successive seasons - and he had two chances in the last campaign after Celtic were reinstated due to a technicality. And despite failing to win any of their last 10 Europa League matches, the Hoops boss vowed to make it to European football's elite club competition next year should, as expected, Celtic win the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Ahead of the trip to Inverness on Sunday, Collins took over media duties and, when asked if he was 100 per cent confident the coaching team would get another European campaign, he replied, "Nothing is guaranteed - but I hope so.

"When you lose games of football, you are always going to be criticised, that's the nature of the business. We are no different to any management team anywhere in the world. Throughout every campaign, there has been aspects of the campaign we have liked, there have been positives, but we have been punished in every game for our errors. I said it a long time ago, that's what happens when you play European football, you get punished."

Collins, who revealed Charlie Mulgrew will have a scan on the recurrence of a thigh injury, admits that, in the absence of the millions of pounds other European clubs are are able to spend, Celtic will continue to be subject to the variables of young, developing players.

The former Celtic midfielder said: "The only way to get better is by working harder, learning from your mistakes and sitting the test again. That's the way it works unless you have £20millon or £100million like Manchester United, Barcelona, but we know we don't.

"So we have to learn and develop as we go along. We want to develop players and that it is the fun side of it, but there is a frustrating side of it as well when you get beat. We haven't done as well as we have wanted, everyone is disappointed, but we are not going to give up, we will keep trying to get better."

Mulgrew came on as a second-half substitute after recovering from a thigh injury which had kept him out since September 12. However, he hobbled straight off after the Dutch side had scored their late second goal.

Asked if the Scotland international had been rushed back, Collins said: "Obviously we didn't think so. We thought he was ready. He has been training for a few weeks.

"We were short of players, he was on the bench and we were only going to use him for 20 minutes and that is what happened. Obviously, he is bitterly disappointed coming back and getting injured again."

Meanwhile, Celtic have announced that Deloitte accountant Chris McKay will join their board as financial director from January 1. McKay will replace Eric Riley, who resigns as financial director at the end of the year but will become a non-executive director for the following six months. 


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