GORDON STRACHAN has defended Peter Lawwell and the Celtic board after a lack of new faces was blamed for the club’s Champions League exit.
The Hoops crashed 2-1 to AEK Athens in the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday evening to go out of the tournament 3-2 on aggregate.
Brendan Rodgers highlighted the lack of transfer activity as a factor in his team’s exit – with only three summer captures in Odsonne Edouard, Scott Bain and Emilio Izaguirre.
Strachan said: “There’ll be people saying ‘they should’ve signed this one or that one’ and I can see why you’d ask those questions, but there were a couple of injuries.
“You can’t blame the board for that or for Dedryck Boyata not wanting to play. As far as I know, Peter Lawwell, Brian Wilson and Dermot Desmond have never played centre-back.
“I’ve been there to deal with the board and they tell you how much you can spend, and you have to stick to that.
“They want to sign players, of course they do, but it’s not always that easy.
“They’re protecting an institution and they cannot risk it. You saw what happened with Rangers, where they almost lost their club, and Celtic can never put themselves in that position.”
Strachan acknowledged Rodgers’ frustration, but said: “You have to balance between what you can afford and what’s acceptable.
“I do understand where Brendan is coming from. I’ve been there many times, where you think you could do with strengthening.
“But I also think that if Brendan had a fully fit squad on Tuesday night, they would’ve won, no bother.
“I sat there, before the match, thinking ‘this isn’t going to be a problem for Celtic’.
“Even when AEK Athens scored early, I still thought Celtic controlled the game, and had a couple of good chances.
“That game was never an issue. There was never anything in the AEK team to give Celtic a real problem.
“On a night when Celtic are finishing better, with a full side, that was a game they would have won, that’s for sure.”
* Gordon Strachan was speaking to Paddy Power News.