• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Celtic must take bold approach, insists Thomas Rogne

The peril for Celtic is that their advantage over Helsingborgs inhibits them.

Thomas Rogne is eager to prolong his stay at Celtic
Thomas Rogne is eager to prolong his stay at Celtic

A 2-0 lead from the first leg of the Champions League play-off tie should allow a measure of comfort, but the tendency within the club is to stress the dangers that lie in tomorrow night's encounter at Celtic Park. That is natural, since complacency needs to be discouraged. There is a hazard too, though, in replacing it with over-caution.

Celtic will be better served by a bold approach. Both managers might have winced at the openness of the first leg, when there seemed a harum-scarum disregard for order, particularly in midfield. That laxness needs to be avoided, but Helsingborgs' chances of overturning the deficit will be undermined if they are forced to try to contain the home side.

The surroundings need to be considered, with Celtic Park a resounding place on European nights, and the crowd will respond to a dynamic performance. Any sense of hesitancy among the players will also cause anxiety in the stands. Nobody would expect a reckless ambition, but Celtic need to impose themselves on their opponents, not simply attempt to restrict them.

"We need to be positive now and go out and try to win the match," said Thomas Rogne, the Celtic defender. "We shouldn't change our approach. People may say we have a lot to lose, but I don't think we do. We played a brilliant game in the first leg and got a good result. We are now at home in front of a great crowd, so it's good for us. We will approach the game like it's 0-0 – you don't go into a game like this thinking, 'we're 2-0 up', and this won't be any different."

Helsingborgs themselves can afford to be audacious, because the balance of the tie is in Celtic's favour and there will be no reward for a meek frame of mind. They will also be heartened by the chances created in the first leg, which resulted in one of Fraser Forster's most impressive performances in goal for Celtic.

Neil Lennon's side deserve their strong position in the tie, not least because they were decisive when opportunities arose. Yet there was still room for a self-critical analysis. Celtic's defence was breached too often for comfort, and the misjudgments have been logged by the individuals at fault. Similar errors in positioning and anticipating danger ought to be avoided in the second leg.

European competition has exposed Celtic to some harsh lessons in recent seasons, but any team will encounter setbacks during its development. The manager, too, has had to adapt to the challenge of facing different tactics and personnel than he would normally experience in Scotland. Progress has reduced the extent of any limitations, and Lennon will expect his players to be poised on this occasion.

"Experience matters in Europe," said Rogne. "You need to be more clinical away from home to get a result and maybe we've not done that [previously]. But in the past two away games, we have shown we can be clinical by not conceding and scoring. We're more ruthless and not so naive. It may be a change of mentality and that's down to the manager because he talks a lot about that. We are ready for Helsingborgs in that way. We want to set the tone."

The odds are stacked in Celtic's favour, but the prize is so great that missing out on it would be galling. Players consider the prestige of their involvement in the tournament, and the club will also value the esteem that comes with competing in the group stages, but the financial windfall is also vital.

Celtic could earn at least £17m from their participation and although some of that will be used to pare down the club's debt, there will be scope for Lennon to add to his squad. He has stressed the need for a leading centre-back and centre-forward, positions which he has been looking to satisfactorily fill for two seasons.

Rogne is still eligible for Norway's under-21 side, but he does not use potential as a means to avoid scrutiny. The centre-back is still developing, and the position tends to reward shrewdness and experience, but he is adamant that he can meet Celtic's needs at the back. The testimony is personal, but every career requires an element of selfishness when one of the demands is to hold off the challenge of others for a place in the team. Rogne is also out of contract at the end of the season, and keen to remain at Celtic, so a statement of intent is to be expected.

"A club like Celtic [is] always going to attract players," he said. "You just have to prove you are the one who should be playing. There's been some talks and my agent is coming over again soon. Celtic know, too, that I would like to stay and they want to keep me. If that's the case it should be a formality."

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

112459