Real Madrid and Celtic, two of the greatest and best supported clubs in the world, have been in a state of depression since Saturday, with their millions of supporters worldwide feeling bruised and battered.

Both clubs have scored three damaging own goals this season producing that 3-3 scoreline of the Post heading.

Own Goal Number 1   No Trophy

Both clubs required to win on Saturday 10th April to keep alive their hopes of winning a trophy in an otherwise barren season. Both lost, by the same 2-0 scoreline, and both now look very likely to finish the 2009-2010 without a single trophy, something neither club will find easy to accept, particularly given the bright hopes with which the season started. It is still mathematically possible both could yet win their domestic League title. But realistically Celtic have no chance. And while Real Madrid are effectively only 4 points behind Barcelona with 7 games to play (the Spanish rules which favour head to head results rather than goal difference are worth an extra point to Barcelona now) with the easier of the two run-ins and with Barcelona facing two difficult and draining games against Mourinho’s Inter in the Champions league Semi-Final legs, it is unlikely they will prevail. So both are very likely to end up a season that started so hopefully with an empty cupboard.

Own Goal Number 2 Cup Humiliation

Celtic’s humiliating loss to Ross County in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final on Saturday was the second time in 4 seasons they have been shamed by second division opponents, Clyde in 2006 being the other giant-killer. Seismic and shocking as both these defeats were, they pale into insignificance compared with the humiliation Pellegrini’s Madrid suffered in the Copa Del Rey this season when they were eliminated by a third tier club, Alcorcon. The first leg, away from home, resulted in one of the most amazing scorelines ever, 4-0 to the wee club. Only Guti seemed to take it personally, kicking out wildly at friends and foe alike on the park and verbally attacking his manager and team mates at halftime before storming off, which got him substituted and then dropped for weeks but endeared him to the Real faithful.

The next morning Marca, the leading Madrid based Spanish daily football newspaper, demanded Pellegrini be sacked. The second leg in the Bernabeu ended 1-0 to a subdued Real, in some ways an even more amazing result, and the cries for Pellegrini’s head rang round the stadium.

No heads will roll immediately following Celtic’s loss to Ross County but it will surely and correctly rule Lennon out the frame for the permanent job, as well as seriously bring into question the attitude and commitment of at least 9 of the players.

Own Goal Number 3      Manager not fit for Project purpose

Both clubs brought in new Managers for the 2009-2010 season, men charged with leading the clubs into new eras following the disappointments of 2008-2009. Neither Pellegrini nor Mowbray were close to being first choices. Florentino Perez had wanted Wenger but had been rejected. He flirted with Mourinho, Benitez and Ancelloti but in the end he had to settle for Pellegrini, on the strong advice of Jorge Valdano the new Director General and fellow South American.

On the Celtic side it appeared that Owen Coyle and Roberto Martinez would have been preferred candidates but both chose a weak Premiership club to the weak Premier League’s greatest club and Celtic ended up giving their job to a man who had just managed his club to a relegation, never before seen as the best recipe for a top job.

Mowbray never came to terms with the job and close students of body language had known for many months that he was a man dying in the role and one who needed to be put out his misery. At Press Conference after Press Conference that haunted face told its story. Although this evidence was visibly available to all, the Celtic decision-makers allowed him to carry out his long threatened decimation of the squad in the January transfer window before finally putting him down only weeks later.

Pellegrini proved much more successful than Mowbray and as he and his (diminishing) band of supporters are prone to trot out at the drop of a criticism, the facts ‘prove’ that in some ways his Real Madrid team in the La Liga have been the most successful Real Madrid team ever. It is just a pity that they have not been good enough to be better than Barcelona. And the defeats in the Copa Del Rey and Champions League had already meant that even success in La Liga would not have saved him. He was charged with making Real Madrid the best team in Europe, in time for the Champions League Final in Madrid on 22nd May. He failed in that task, he failed to make his team superior to Barcelona , so he has to go. Harsh maybe but Florentino Perez needs someone who will deliver his vision and he has the ruthlessness to act to ensure he gets it.

So 3-3 it has been this season, all own goals and not a trophy in sight.

Real Madrid versus Celtic is the kind of game Celtic fans want to see their team engaged in, not scuffles against clubs from little places like Dingwall. As one of the few clubs in the world who can deliver 60,000 fervent fans to every home game in a wonderful modern stadium, Celtic have a right to see themselves in that kind of company. Their record in European Club competition entitles them to a place in that top European elite on merit. Celtic are still the only club from outwith the European Big 7 leagues (who have supplied all but 3 of the winners of the European Cup/Champions League) to have appeared in more than one Final, winning famously in 1967, losing less grandly in 1970.

But the harsh reality is that that hard earned place at Europe’s top table is under serious and permanent threat. Later this week  GGW will examine some of the ways in which that threat can best be addressed.