We all know the reasons why that was the case, but our victory over PSV ended that 12-year hoodoo and it seemed like the final step in the journey was completed - but maybe the journey is still ongoing.

In our absence, Europe’s elite have accumulated riches beyond belief with record TV deals, sponsorships, wages, and prize money being dished out as well as takeovers at Man City, Leipzig and PSG allowing three clubs into Europe’s top table that hadn’t been there before.

Before we knew it, historic clubs like Rangers, Ajax, Celtic etc were being washed away with these new powerhouses that threatened the very existence of the game we loved being based on sporting merit and not finances.

Alas, this is the way that football has turned into more so in the last decade.

We know the commercialisation of the game all started with the invention of the Premier League, but I think we all felt at one point there was a piece of the pie for everyone - now that pie is reserved for the top five leagues only and the rest are made to fight it out for the leftover crumbs.

When the manager said after the game in Amsterdam that we ‘cannot compete’ at this level, many Rangers fan saw that as defeatist, and I agree with that as you cannot go into any game as a professional never mind a Rangers player with that attitude.

He was, however, correct with what he was saying – we can’t compete with Liverpool, Napoli, or even Ajax now when it comes to finances.

We all moaned that we never signed anyone after qualifying, but when you look at the prize money accumulated, Ajax have gained an extra £5.6m from their two victories against us as well as prize money for finishing third - this will be about 50% of what we earned from qualification and puts them further ahead of us financially, that’s the way I look at it.

I know I’m mentioning Ajax a lot and that’s because I believe that is the level that Rangers can and should be aspiring to be at.

There are many similarities with Scotland and the Netherlands in terms of population and the league structure etc, but they always do far better than us - that’s because they have a focus on youth development and I believe the politics of Scottish Football has put this game years behind where it needs to be, pettiness and politics that the Dutch don’t seem to have.

This isn’t solely a Rangers issue, it’s an issue of Scottish Football which is in a far worse place than a lot of people think it is.

EURO 2020 qualification and having three teams in the group stages has masked Scottish Football’s failures over the years to get anywhere near the level of the Netherlands, we need to remember that the only reason these two ‘achievements’ happened was because UEFA created new tournaments which meant it was nearly impossible for Scotland not to reach the Euros, giving people a false hope that the country is improving.

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After defeat in Madrid last night, Celtic have now recorded their joint worst UCL group stage campaign ever, of course, you won’t hear about that because they played well against Real Madrid for 60 minutes on Matchday 1.

So deluded are Celtic that the manager has even said that they ‘belong’ in the competition and ‘deserve to be there’.

How on earth can you ‘belong’ in a competition in which you win literally zero games?

Rangers have clearly had a horrific campaign, but I think most Rangers fans are honest about their assessment of where the club is in terms of levels.

It’s just another example of Celtic arrogantly thinking that they’re better than what they are.

This is a club that was given a free reign at UCL football for 10 years and only managed to qualify four times; this is a club who have won one UCL game in 18; this is a club who despite Rangers having the ‘worst ever’ group stage tag, were still knocked out before us despite having an easier group.

The real reason that Celtic fans are so gleeful about Rangers’ campaign isn’t just a simple case of ‘Old Firm Banter’ – it’s to mask from their own failures in Europe over the last decade and give them some comfort over it to make them think they’ve somehow achieved something by finishing in last place yet again.

The question is, how can we improve and get to the next level?

For me it’s about two things: youth development and being self-sufficient.

The first one we seem to have more of a grip on nowadays, Leon King has played in every UCL game this season and that has advanced his development which can only be a good thing, it was also good to see Alex Lowry come on against Ajax and hopefully he can play a part in the next few matches going into the World Cup.

Other players coming through like Charlie McCann, Adam Devine, Robbie Ure and Zak Lovelace give me the confidence that Rangers have a modern day, progressive youth system and it is now just a case of embedding these players into the first team.

The second point is more controversial given the type of club that Rangers are.

Since the takeover in 2015, directors have put their hands in their pockets and overspent to stop Celtic winning 10 in a Row and we eventually achieved that.

The investors are now, rightly, looking to recoup their investment which means we need to be self-sufficient; we cannot keep relying on other people to finance us forever.

We are now in a position in which the clubs have had assets on the pitch that we have sold and we are now only starting on the journey of the ‘player trading model’ which was always the long term ambition of the club.

I understand fan’s frustrations with not singing anyone after UCL qualification, but let’s be honest here, would an extra player or two mean we would’ve defeated any of the sides we played?

I don’t believe that to be the case, the argument could be made that we would be in a better league position but if you look at GVB’s record then he is on course to reach 92 points over his first 38 league games which is enough to win the league about 90% of the time, can it be helped that Celtic are a slightly more consistent domestic side?

Of course, the issue is how we can overcome that, and the Old Firm games are vital, we haven’t performed well at Celtic Park under GVB bar the second period in the May match and I do believe that once we get our players back he will be able to get the best out of them to do so.

Club projects over the last couple of years like MyGers and Edmiston House have caused controversy amongst the fans, but at the end of the day these schemes have been introduced so that over the long term the club can be self-sufficient.

I’m not a cheerleader for the board and I believe many decisions that have been made are not the right ones, but I think overall we are in a very good place as a club and a lot of fans just can’t handle the fact that now, Celtic are better than us.

I have been guilty of thinking we were in a stronger position than we were after we won 55 but the last season has shown how far we are behind Celtic financially, whilst schemes like ones mentioned are controversial, we are going to have to do stuff like this to bridge the gap financially so we can bring in better quality players in the long term.

We are now financially at the point that Celtic were at maybe 7/8 years ago where you can guarantee a decent sale every summer and bring in 2/3 decent players for less and rinse and repeat the process, that is the model that the club is striving to have, and we are only at the beginning of the cycle.

Fat Eck made an excellent point in our Gersnet post-match pod when he said that at every stage of the journey, we have felt pain and had to suffer before experiencing the highs.

I believe that this season’s UCL campaign is another example of that and in the long run the club will be better for it.

Whilst a lot of supporters are calling for GVB’s head, the reality is that he is not going anywhere.

The focus now must be on getting behind the team and the manager to try and secure a domestic treble, the opportunity is very much there to do so.

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