Celtic, John Collins

Collins hopeful of more time

By Craig Turnbull

Celtic assistant boss John Collins says he’s hopeful that the management team will get another chance to qualify for the Champions League.

Collins was speaking after Celtic were eliminated from the Europa League by Ajax following a campaign which saw them pick up just two points from five games.

It’s the second season that the Hoops have failed to qualify for the Champions League while Thursday’s defeat to the Dutch outfit consigned Ronny Deila to 10 games without a win in the Europa League.

Collins says he’s hopeful that they will get a third opportunity to turn it around in Europe.

He said: “Nothing is guaranteed, but I hope so.

“Every week we work hard and sit the test. We sit a slightly different test on a Saturday. In Europe, we sit a different test against different opponents.

“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 £20 million or £100 million like Manchester United or Barcelona, but we know we don’t.

“So we have to learn and develop as we go along.

“Unless you want to buy [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic who will guarantee you…

“We want to develop players and it is fun, it is the fun side of it, but there is a frustrating side of it as well when you get beat.”

Celtic’s No.2 says there were positives to take from this year’s European campaign, in particular, the emergence of a young defender.

“The negative was the result, the positive was Kieran Tierney,” Collins said.

“Nobody had heard of him two months ago, but he’s an 18-year-old playing like a £5 million full back. That’s positive if you want to talk about it.

“Callum McGregor came back in played central midfield and maybe was the best midfielder on the park – both are Scottish boys.

“As managers and coaches you want to find positives, we can all find the negatives but I thought there were periods in the game where in the second half we created chances.”

Collins says the focus now is ensuring a clean sweep of domestic titles.

“We’re disappointed in Europe. The expectation is we are judged on European football but at the same time we’re sitting top of the Championship, in the semi-final of a cup and we’re still going for a treble,” he said.

“There are a lot of clubs who I would imagine would be quite happy with that.”

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