Celtic keen to profit from Champions League boost

May 18, 2006

Steve Chalmers believes Celtic can follow Rangers into the latter stages of the Champions League next season after Barcelona handed them the keys to the group stages.

Parkhead legend Henrik Larsson handed his old club a £10million ticket among Europe's elite having come off the bench to inspire the Spanish giants to victory over Arsenal.

Lisbon Lion Chalmers now believes the atmosphere at Parkhead will be like a goal start for the Hoops against the Continent's crack outfits.

He also expects the board to back Gordon Strachan with more cash in the transfer market as Celtic bid to match Rangers' feat of becoming the first Scottish club to reach the knockout stages of the competition.

'I don't see why they can't get through,' Chalmers told PA Sport. 'They will certainly be strong opponents for anyone.

'No teams in Europe will fancy coming to Parkhead to face them and it's become a fortress again in recent years.

'Those European nights are always special and the atmosphere inside the ground is incredible.

'I know from my experience that the crowd gives you a goal start so it will be a hard place for anyone to come.

'They can also go away and get results so Celtic should not fear anybody.

'I know they had a dreadful start last season in going out against Artmedia Bratislava in the qualifiers but that risk has been avoided this time and they will learn from that.

'The manager was let down badly last time, having replaced a big hero in Martin O'Neill, and I'm sure that won't happen again. Rangers showed what can be done in the competition.

'Gordon Strachan has already made three signings - Derek Riordan, Kenny Miller and Gary Caldwell - and obviously the manager thinks they are good and he's the boss.

'He is not going to please everybody with his signings but I'm sure he has been looking at players he can afford and I'm sure getting into the group stages will give him more money.'

Chalmers was thrilled to watch former Hoops favourite Larsson come off the bench to lift Barcelona.

He added: 'I am a great fan of Henrik Larsson and he is still doing Celtic a turn, two years after leaving.

'He should have his place in any team, even with the talent Barcelona have.

'He is a great team player and I'm sure he realised what Barcelona's victory did for Celtic.

'I believe it's worth over £10million to the club being in the Champions League so I'm sure the board are happy.

'But everyone should be thrilled to be in the group stages especially after what happened in Bratislava last season.

'Everything went against them that night so this means they won't face any more potential disasters this time around.

'Gordon Strachan's got every chance of getting more money now from the board to spend on new players.

'You can't have too many players but he can go out and bring some quality in now.'