It has been a pretty grim start to the season as far as Scottish football’s European representatives are concerned.
Rangers look to be growing in confidence and stature with each passing game but for Celtic, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock it seems there are more questions than answers.
At Celtic Park Hoops supporters have been left baffled and bewildered by their side’s calamitous home defeat to Cluj in the Champions League.
Losing 4-3 at home, after seemingly having done the difficult part in recording a score draw in a tricky away first leg in Romania, was remarkable but it was the manner of the defeat which was telling.
Kieran Tierney is irreplaceable at Celtic but if we know anything it’s that Callum McGregor is not his successor. The midfielder was deemed the man for the job ahead of Boli Bolingo-Mbombo who has so far failed to convince he can replace the Arsenal defender. But McGregor’s absence from midfield was telling as Cluj cut through the Hoops’ lines with ease in a hugely entertaining second half which would have thrilled the neutrals but no doubt left Neil Lennon stunned.
What’s even more perplexing was Christopher Julien, the second coming of Virgil van Dijk according to some, sitting on the bench for such an important game.
At £7 million he is the biggest signing of the Scottish football season yet he has so far played back-up to Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic.
The Europa League beckons for the Hoops as a result but they are one of only two representatives remaining to fly the flag for Scotland after Aberdeen joined Kilmarnock in making an early exit.
Killie? Well, the least said about their debacle against Connah’s Quay Nomads the better. It was abysmal stuff and they haven’t recovered from it yet under new manager Angelo Alessio.
Derek McInnes’ Dons became the second casualty on Thursday. Like Celtic their exit was self-inflicted.
Rijeka had too much for Aberdeen both home and away in front of goal. The word which has been used repeatedly by the players is naive and it’s spot-on but it was so poor it defied belief at times.
It started before a ball was kicked with Scott McKenna’s ill-timed transfer request and only Shay Logan knows why he thought it was a good idea to tug on a Rijeka shirt in the first leg to concede a penalty. Was it soft? Yes, but it was a spot kick.
As for the second leg, Funso Ojo, booked once for his former club last season, has already received five cautions for his new club and has only played six games. It’s a worrying trend at this early stage and one which could lead to the midfielder earning a reputation for himself if he doesn’t knock it on the head.
What hurts the most is Aberdeen are better than they showed against Rijeka. Why they failed to produce is the biggest question of all.