By Alex O'Henley
Celtic FC are coming to terms with their worst-ever European result following the humiliating 5-0 defeat by FC Artmedia Bratislava on Wednesday night.
'State of shock'
Manager Gordon Strachan, taking charge of the Scottish club for the first time in a competitive match, described the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first-leg defeat by the Slovakian champions as the lowest point of his career. "It is my worst night in football without question and disappointment would be well down my list of adjectives," said Strachan. "After a result like that I have to say I am in a state of shock."
Barring a miracle in the second leg at Parkhead next Tuesday, Celtic are all but out of the Champions League and with no UEFA Cup place on offer for a second qualifying round exit, they are a facing the prospect of a season without European football. The reverse even managed to eclipse the 5-1 thrashing by Swiss side Neuchâtel Xamax FC 14 years ago during the reign of Liam Brady.
Voice of disapproval
The travelling Celtic support were quick to voice their disapproval at the end of the game, calling for Strachan's resignation, and the man who replaced Martin O'Neill during the summer knows he faces a huge challenge to win over the fans.
"I have been tested as a player and as a manager but this is now my biggest test," the 48-year-old former Scottish international said. "It's very hard for me to be coherent and to speak about the future after this result."
Heading for an iceberg
Scotland's sporting press wasted no time in turning the focus on to Strachan's future, with the Daily Record making a comparison with the sinking of the Titanic. "History tells us the worst start anyone ever made to a new job was when the lookout on the Titanic failed to spot the ship was heading for an iceberg the size of Belgium. Well, until last night that is. In Bratislava, Gordon Strachan knew exactly what that poor bloke felt like when he heard a thump and wondered what the racket was."
'Brats 5 Prats 0'
The Scottish Sun headlined their match report with "Brats 5 Prats 0" and opened with a damning summary of Celtic's performance. "Out of their depth, out of ideas and out of Europe as once proud Celtic died of shame in the heat of Slovakia. Gordon Strachan is this morning staring at a £10m disaster as his hapless and hopeless side career towards plunging out of Europe without a parachute."
The broadsheets were equally unforgiving, The Scotsman labelling the defeat "Strachan's worst nightmare", while The Herald ran the headline "Defence rests, prosecution begins", hinting at the pressure Strachan will now come under. As if the defeat by Artmedia was not bad enough, Celtic now face the opening game of the Scottish season on Saturday against Motherwell FC, the team that denied them the Premier League title with the last kick of the final day of last term.
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