CELTIC enter the Champions League group stage for the first time in five years this week with a test of their European credentials on the line.

For all the relative success that Rangers have had in continental competition, Celtic’s attempts to progress past the group stages have been embarrassing by comparison – a scenario that runs directly opposite to their near-total dominance of Scottish competitions in that time.

That domestic bliss has been spearheaded by two men with very similar approaches to how the game should be played in Brendan Rodgers and Ange Postecoglou. Rodgers stuck rigidly to his principles in European competition often to the frustration of Celtic supporters. In his two Champions League campaigns, Celtic were soundly thrashed by Paris St-Germain home and away, shipped seven in the Camp Nou and had little answer for Bayern Munich in the Olympic Stadium.

In isolation those results can be set against the strength of the star-studded teams they were facing but those who watched them will recall Celtic setting up in the most naive of fashions, as lambs to the slaughter against unsparing opponents.

There were similar criticisms levelled at Postecoglou last season in the Europa League when Celtic lost heavily to Bayer Leverkusen and chucked away a two-goal lead against Real Betis and questions remain as to how they will fare.

The sense is that Celtic are better equipped this time around. For his part Postecoglou has repeatedly stated he will not compromise on his principles.

“We have to bring our own identity. People are pretty clear on what type of team we are. What a great opportunity to play our football. If we’re not successful, fair enough,” said the Australian in the aftermath of Saturday’s dominant victory over Rangers. “But let’s go down swinging rather than deferring to someone because they’re a good team. Our supporters want us to take the game to Real Madrid and see where it takes us. Let’s have a crack anyway.”

It’s all very praiseworthy but make no mistake Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk will be licking their lips if there is no pragmatic Plan B for this season’s continental campaign.

More misery for McKenna with mistakes mounting

It has been a far from gentle introduction to the English Premier League for the Scotland centre-half Scott McKenna. The former Aberdeen defender was at fault for two of the goals as Nottingham Forest surrendered a two-goal lead at home to lose 3-2 to fellow new boys Bournemouth on Saturday.

The 25-year-old attempted to deflect Dominic Solanke’s goal-bound shot away with his head but only succeeded in diverting it past his keeper Dean Henderson – who appeared to have the shot covered anyway.

Then he gifted possession to Solanke in the dying minutes of the match and the Bournemouth attacker had the simple task of rolling the ball to Jaidon Anthony, who duly fired home the winner.

Those slips follow similar difficulties experienced by McKenna since the start of the season; he was lucky to stay on the pitch for a deliberate handball against West Ham and blocked Henderson’s line of vision for Tottenham’s opener – and lost Harry Kane at the back post for Spurs’ second – in last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at the City Ground.

With five other centre-halves waiting in the wings following Forest’s lavish spending spree this summer, the Scot will be looking over his shoulder after his latest faux pas at the weekend.

Time to show tactical fouls the red card

There comes a point in football when suddenly certain laws of the game are no longer fit for purpose. I’m thinking specifically here about what has become known as “the tactical foul”, so-called because there is no attempt to injure an opponent but merely to disrupt their momentum.

Of course, nuance plays a part here. Take Saturday’s trip by Conor Goldson on Daizen Maeda as the Celtic attacker galloped clear in the late stages of Saturday’s demolition of Rangers; the rules say it was not a clear goalscoring opportunity but I’d venture that interpretation is not borne out by how goals are often scored today.

Celtic thrive on transitions, their tactics are set up to create exactly those scenarios where they overload their opponent – and, yes, almost inevitably score from those positions. This is the way of the modern game. Liverpool’s entire attacking system is built around transitions and coaches attempting to stop them know all too well that taking someone down on the halfway line is a risk worth taking because an overloaded counter-attack is as much of a threat as one v one against the keeper.

On a weekly basis now, there are multiple instances of defenders cynically putting a stop to dangerous attacks because they know the worst that will happen is that they receive a yellow card.

It’s about time the rule was redrawn.

LIV is the grift that keeps on giving

There was another drum roll last week for the new defectors to the LIV Golf Series as it rolled into Boston. An accompanying, stomach-churning launch video showed players and assorted glad-handers quaffing champagne and munching on hors d’oeuvres to promote the glamour of a competition that leaves one feeling a little queasier each time there’s an announcement.

Last month, of course, LIV rocked up in Bedminster, New Jersey for the third event of the season. In nearby Basking Ridge, there was outcry from families who lost 17 relatives in the World Trade Centre attacks on September 11 in 2001.

Terry Strada, the chair of 9/11 Families United, lost her husband Tom that day. She explained to ABC News last week what it meant to her to see Saudi involvement in a LIV Golf tournament on Basking Ridge’s doorstep.

“We know that 15 of the 19 of them [9/11 hijackers] were Saudi nationals, but now we know there was this anti-American pro-jihadist programme that was set up in the Saudi Embassy, and it was running out of the consulate out in California, and it was filled with extremists,” Strada said. “They haven’t done anything to make amends for the worst terrorist attack that ever happened on American soil. They put a lot of money into our economy for all the same reasons, they just try to buy respect. And you can’t buy respect. You have to earn it.”

Cause for alarm at Edinburgh

My late father used to claim that he was among a group of Glentoran supporters who invaded the pitch during a match against Belfast Celtic in the 1960s with the latter side leading 3-0 at the time. The match was subsequently abandoned but the result stood.

This possibly apocryphal story returned to me after reading of events at the DAM Health Stadium on Friday night when Edinburgh were spared an embarrassing pre-season defeat at the hands of part-timers London Scottish due to a spectator accidentally setting off a fire alarm.

Mike Blair, left, the Edinburgh head coach, sought to paper over the cracks by saying that his side had a line-out 10 yards from the Scottish try line when a halt was called and that his team were in position to win with six minutes remaining – an assessment which did not really stand up to scrutiny since Edinburgh trailed by eight points at the time.


The length of time in seconds it took Liel Abada to score Celtic's first goal at Parkhead on Saturday from the point when Jota took the throw in to Matt O'Riley and the midfielder crossed for the Israeli to finish