Rangers manager Graeme Souness was worried when Celtic rehired Brendan Rodgers for a second time this summer. He knew the appointment by the Celtic board showed real ambition.

Speaking on talkSPORT back in June, the former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder said this: "I tell you what it does, obviously my focus on the other side of Glasgow. This is the worry for me as a Rangers man, that he has asked for assurances on budgets.

"What he is going to spend, how much he can spend. I am sure if Brendan had sat he would have got job offers back in England, maybe not the Premier League but certainly top end Championship. So it worries me slightly he has gone back for that fact alone that promises have been made to him about budgets and how much he can spend. That ain't good news for Rangers."

It definitely seemed like it wasn't good news for Rangers. Even Rodgers appeared to be swept away with the emotion of it all as the prodigal son returned to manage the club he loved.

In football parlance the Northern Irishman set out his stall early doors as he declared: "Celtic are going into the Champions League and our ambition is to qualify out of that group stage.

"That is a huge challenge but it’s a challenge we will embrace. If not, we want to try and ensure we have got European football after Christmas and go as far as we possibly can. You have to be realistic. You can be in a Champions League group with some of the richest teams in the world. Of course, you want to be competitive and we can bring our A-game but the reality against some of these teams is if we both bring our A-game, they will win."

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Sadly it seems that nobody in the club's hierarchy got Rodgers 'vaulting ambition' memo. The Celtic board have always been the focus of the faithful's ire. It was ever thus. Digits are now being pointed in their direction as we speak after another embarrassment, humiliation, capitulation - dress it up whatever way you will - on the Champions League stage for Celtic after a 6-0 hammering against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night.

Do Celtic lack ambition at boardroom level when it comes to the Champions League? It would certainly appear so.

Celtic Way: Celtic winger Daizen Maeda is ordered off in the Estadio Metropolitano.

Rodgers rejoined the club in July, following Ange Postecoglou’s summer departure to join Tottenham Hotspur. Celtic then signed Maik Nawrocki, Luis Palma, Gustaf Lagerbielke, Odin Thiago Holm, Yang Hyun-jun, Marco Tilio and Kwon Hyeok-kyu on permanent deals, with Nat Phillips and Paolo Bernardo also joining on loan for the rest of the season.

It was to all intents and purposes an underwhelming summer transfer window. Lots of project players and none whom Rodgers could easily say were first-team ready or would replace the quality of the departed Jota and Carl Starfelt.

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay was linked. Swiss midfielder Fabian Rieder was reported as a target  in the press. Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livaković was another. All three were examples of the kind of player that got the juices flowing. Rodgers was not given the funds to pursue any of them and unsurprisingly none of them checked in at Celtic Park.

The argument as to how you can convince these types of players to ply their trade in Scotland is a perfectly valid one. Now and again though, without being financially reckless, it is worth Celtic making 'X-Factor' footballers an offer they can't understand never mind refuse. Money talks and all that. You just have to ask the right players the right questions and occasionally accede to their financial demands. McTominay, Rieder and Livakovic fell into that category. They could have been the difference makers, especially in Europe.

Even more ironically was the fact that owing to Jota's sensational £25 million transfer to Saudi side Al-Ittihad the club made a song and dance about how much profit they had banked without actually loosening the purse strings to give the Northern Irishman a helping hand to plan his assault on the Champions League.

The board took great pride in telling anybody who would listen that they had something like £72 million in reserve. Doing what, exactly? Gathering interest? Rainy day money? Celtic's rainy day comes every season when they try and compete in the Champions League with an under-equipped manager and an ill-prepared squad for the elite level of European football. Their deficiencies and failures are laid bare for all to see.

Remember the days when watching Celtic in Europe used to be a joy? The club was feared on the continent. Nobody wanted to draw the team from Scotland back then. Now, they are all clamouring to play against the men in green and white to sample that wonderful atmosphere and to claim the scalp of a fallen European giant.

And sadly, that's what Celtic are you know.  A fallen European giant. Trading on a false European reputation. Such statements are painful to accept as much as they are true.

If only the hierarchy's ambition matched that of their manager and their supporters. Yet they claim to be custodians of the club and acting in Celtic's best interests. The level of ambition should be a whole lot more than just being better than Rangers every season. That seems to be the tried and tested strategy of the board.

Yet, riddle me this: why have the blue half of Glasgow have appeared in two European finals (2008 and 2022) since Celtic last contested one of their own? (2003). That statistic alone should shame every member of the 'Grey Brigade'.

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They have sat back now for the best part of two decades and watched their club suffer embarrassment after embarrassment with the odd humiliation thrown in for good measure in Europe. They don't seem to be actively trying to improve matters on the field either - so much so that some Celtic supporters actually approach European campaigns with dread more than optimism. It's heart breaking for the diehards and the faithful to stomach. Being better than Rangers isn't showing ambition. It is not enough to beat your rivals and declare it as if it is some sort of wonderful sporting achievement - it is not.

Winning 11 of the last 12 domestic titles is all well and good but it pales into insignificance when there is little or no ambition shown on the stage where it matters most. All of a sudden, the regular diet of easy domestic wins and no European football after Christmas isn't enough to satisfy the insatiable appetite of a fanbase who hunger for more. To that end, the Celtic fans have long been short-changed by the men upstairs 

If the club continue to spend money on 'project type' players then don't be surprised when a real Champions League quality team with the calibre of players like Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata rips you a new one and hands it to you on a plate like Atletico Madrid did on Tuesday night. Funny that, eh?

For the record:

Celtic Way:

Celtic have not won a game in the Champions League since 2017. They have not won a home game in the Champions League since 2013. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last 14 Champions League matches. In the last five Champions League campaigns the most the club has yielded in terms of points is three. They have played 28 games won two, drawn six and lost 20.

If you are a Celtic supporter, then you can only read those statistics and weep. No ambition in Europe and just happy to be there and take the Champions League group stage coin. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. Celtic supporters don't want to settle for mediocrity in Europe. They never will. Why do the board do exactly that?

As custodians, they must match the supporters and the manager's ambitions if they want to compete and be taken seriously once again in Europe. Celtic craves new modern leadership with men at the top with drive, ambition and ideas on how to drag the club out of their current European malaise, otherwise, the days of thinking it's a case of a job done just by qualifying for the Champions League group stages and all the back-slapping that goes along with it will continue ad infinitum.

If the current board with a huge surplus of cash is not prepared or lack the genuine foresight and ambition required to back an elite-level football manager in Rodgers when it comes to Europe then what chance do Celtic have?

It's this kind of approach to the Champions League from the Celtic hierarchy more than anything that will no doubt eventually prove to be their undoing domestically. When that happens you might just find that contrary to what Souness said it will turn out to be good news for Rangers. The biggest irony of all is that the custodians of Celtic are proving themselves to be the biggest impediment to the club being the best version of itself that it can be.

If all else fails at least Celtic have still got Jock Stein, the Lisbon Lions, '1967 'n' all that' to fall back on - right?