Griffiths: It’s my fault. My shooting boots were on the wrong feet
Leigh Griffiths last night shouldered the blame for Celtic’s exit from the Europa League and insisted that he should have buried Ajax at Parkhead, writes Gary Keown.
The striker missed two golden opportunities in the closing 15 minutes before visiting substitute Vaclav Cerny scored on the counterattack to give the Dutch league leaders a 2-1 victory and destroy any faint hopes the home side had of making the knockout stages.
Griffiths also put a couple of shots wide of the target in the first half after Arkadiusz Milik had cancelled out an early opener from Callum McGregor and was incredibly harsh on himself after the final whistle with the Parkhead club’s final match of Group A away to Fenerbahce of Turkey on December 10 now meaningless.
“This has been my toughest moment of 2015,” stated Griffiths. “100 per cent. I will be taking a lot of stick from fans, but that is part and parcel of football. We had the chance to go to Istanbul with a chance and the fate rested with me and my shooting boots. Unfortunately for me, they were on the wrong feet.
“I will beat myself up until Sunday. Ultimately, my performance has cost the team in Europe. I’m putting that on myself because I can’t fault anyone else in the team. I thought they were outstanding.
“I will blame myself. If I take my chances, it could be a different scoreline. I had three, four, five good chances. On another day, I would have scored two or three of them, but, tonight, it has cost us dearly.
“I probably won’t sleep for a while tonight. I’ll sit up and reflect on the game. “I couldn’t utter a word to my team-mates after the game. I was just so disappointed. It is not their fault. It is down to me and my finishing. If it was down to me, we could have gone 3-1, 4-1 or 5-1 up and put them out of sight.”
Griffiths admits he would understand should Deila drop him from Sunday’s Ladbrokes Premiership visit to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, but would love the opportunity to take his anger out on the Highland side.
“If I was him, I would want to change it, but it is down to him and what he thinks is good for the team,” he said. “If he picks me, I will go out and give it everything.”
Griffiths insists Deila’s future should not be called into question despite Celtic’s exit from the competition and the side’s failure to win a match in the Europa League.
“We had two good performances at the start of the group against Ajax and Fenerbahce and had another one tonight,” he said. “The two Molde games were really disappointing, but we can’t fault the manager for that.”