A WEE Glasgow guy who was a tad worse for wear staggered up to me in my hotel lobby a few hours after Celtic’s latest European defeat with some words of wisdom.

“Did you just copy what you’ve done a hunner times for the night’s paper?”

Not quite, but there was a more than a whiff of familiarity as Zenit St Petersburg carved open a Celtic defence which did not put up much of, 
ironically, a defence.

Read more: Brendan Rodgers warns Celtic fans that Euro vision is bleak

The Celtic supporters have wearily and worryingly grown used to this. Their team does okay to a certain level and then concedes the exact same goals and that’s it for another season. It’s becoming a bit boring and that is the last thing watching Celtic should be.

Some context is, of course, needed.

Money doesn’t guarantee you success in football but it does help, a lot, and Celtic simply do not have as much as clubs such as Zenit St 
Petersburg who, in European terms, are mid-table at best.

However, that is not to say that no criticism can be levelled at Brendan Rodgers and his players because on Thursday, as has happened many times before at this stage, they conceded goals which any team would be embarrassed about. This must change.

“I just think it’s consistency in our defending,” said Brendan Rodgers as he tried to explain what had happened. Again.

“If you look at last week’s performance, we had only conceded one shot on target. Very stable, concentrated. 

Read more: Celtic remain in talks with Aussie midfielder Tom Rogic despite initial contract rebuff

“And then you look at Thursday and I just felt from the start for some reason we were a little bit passive. 

“That’s youth, it’s lack of experience in some key positions. That’s just coaching and it’s time. It’s players getting big experiences. 

“I looked at Moussa Dembele and I thought he was a great reference, great physicality in the game, he was a real handful for them. I thought Olivier Ntcham was excellent in midfield, taking the ball, he had belief in what he was doing. 

“Browny’s Browny, every single game he plays he is top class. It’s important that our younger players learn from that. We made a step forward this year in Europe. 

“Okay, there is disappointment from his game but bigger picture we look to improve on that consistency and that will come from experience and hopefully next year we can improve again.”

Celtic do need to improve. Perhaps mature is a better word. 

Too often they are undone by the simplest of mistakes and while they get away with that in Scotland, at even Europa League level they will get punished.

Read more: Davie Hay: Rodgers will be raging inside... now Celtic must shape up or ship out​

“It was interesting just watching the start to our game,” said Rodgers. 

“I like my team to have possession but I like dangerous possession. I felt we were going sideways and backwards too much, even when we had opportunities to turn. 

“That always is a warning sign for me in terms of that belief. 

“Obviously, they score their goal and that gives them the confidence and allows them to find stability in the game. For the rest of the half we never really affected the game, I felt, if you contrast back to last week when we could get the ball, we turned, we played forward, we got in between.

“When you don’t do that there’s always that fear. Everything was sideways and backwards which isn’t really the type of team we are. So, we reiterated that at half-time. But it comes from your defending. 

“If you start passively in your defending, and we are a team that likes to defend forward and we didn’t do that often enough from our back line really in those key areas. So that makes it difficult for you.”

Celtic’s season is far from over. They have an opportunity of winning successive Trebles. This would be no mean feat.

The European campaign did not go well, let’s be honest, but there could be so much more to celebrate. 

“Right up until this point we were in four competitions and doing very well,” said Rodgers.

“It’s a disappointment, of course, but on reflection over the course of the European campaign there have been many good moments, many highlights for us, but of course many disappointments as well and things for us to improve on.

“Now we have a clear run domestically. From June of last year, we have been virtually playing every other week. The squad has had injuries. The players have shown great fight right through until this stage so now we have a clear run at it domestically and we will be looking to finish the season very strongly.”

And back-to-back Trebles?

“That is a huge motivation for us,” added Rodgers. “To be into February in all four competitions was a great achievement for us I felt, it has been tough for us this year in terms of injuries and key players being out. 

“We have a great opportunity now to go on and the next possibilities are the league and the cup. To do that would bring yet again a historical season for us. 

“Our focus is now very much on that game on Sunday and we have other important games between now and the end of the season, it is a really exciting finish for us. It’s a disappointment this week to go out but there are still lots of lessons learned.”

“But the past is the past now, we will learn from that, you have to look forward and for us this is a really exciting finish to the season now and in the main we will have one game a week so the players will be super intense, super ready for all the games. 

“Let’s go and really attack this last part of the season and show our qualities.”