Seven weeks ago we were all still pretty pissed off from the cup semi final defeat early that afternoon.
Sevconia was gloating, as you might expect.
They were heralding it as if it was the finest result in the history of football, as if they’d played us off the park.
Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here; it was a penalty shoot-out victory against a team that had the bulk of the possession and created many more chances. They eked it out, and on the day won against a team that looked spiritually bereft and short of ideas. It was a result many of us had half been expecting; I had been arguing for weeks that the game would be decided based on what “version” of Celtic showed up.
The defeat had been all too imaginable, all too possible, for us to be truly shocked.
Celtic appeared to be in total disarray. The fans were openly furious with Deila and with much of the strategy that underpinned his tenure. The club appeared locked in acrimony. Season ticket sales were predicted to tank unless there were big changes.
Yet in the aftermath of that game, amidst the anger, I felt strongly that things had shifted, that what geologists call plate tectonics was underway at Celtic Park; a vast, transformative moment had arrived. I wondered how long Sevco fans would be celebrating.
I wrote about that feeling in an article over on Fields of Green, an article called The Storm Before The Calm.
I highlighted the fate of Caesar’s assassins, and how each and every one of those involved in that historic murder were, themselves, dead within two years of the event. I talked about how the seeds of ultimate, irrevocable defeat can be found in the fruits of a prior victory and I argued that Sevco fans who were of a more cerebral sort might be pondering on whether or not the result was, strictly speaking, in their best interests.
It was one day in the sun. That was all.
They had secured precisely nothing but a single victory, and that over a broken man who could already see the writing on the wall. They had never wanted Ronny Deila to fall on the sword, although a Scottish Cup would have been a decent trade off.
But seven weeks later, where are we?
They never secured that Scottish Cup, suffering the ignominy of losing to Hibs in a match that although it was decided late was one where they’d been outplayed for much of the game. The off-field chaos that followed revealed their club to be self-obsessed and arrogant beyond belief, run by petty spiteful men willing to pander to the lowest common denominator amongst a support that simply cannot cope with setbacks of any kind.
Their manager vanished after the game, popping up only once since, to give an interview to The Sun, snubbing the club’s traditional paper of record. He and his backroom team hid behind the events following the game, to beat a hasty retreat without once justifying his team selection or tactics. There are claims that he chose only five subs as a deliberate provocation to his own board of directors, his way of saying “the cupboard is bare.”
Rumours abound that he’s desperately unhappy at Ibrox and wants to go, realising that the resources to build the team he was told he could are simply not going to be there. According to The Record, he’s been offered a new deal, but it remains unsigned and people suspect he’s either been talking to other clubs about vacancies because he’s decided he’s off or he’s using those discussions to leverage himself a better offer at Ibrox.
All of this is to say nothing for the club’s poor record under him anyway.
In spite of reams of good press, his team often looks dreadful even against part time opponents.
They won the title on less points (after the same number of games) than we did in the SPL, in a season where our manager was under tremendous pressure for most of the campaign. They crashed out of the League Cup in the first round, and winning the Ramsden’s Cup doesn’t hide these facts.
No-one of a Celtic persuasion is buying into this “magic hat” guff.
If he signed a new contract at Ibrox none of us would be exactly crying into our beer.
Because, of course, at Celtic the very changes we wanted to see came to pass, and the unfolding shambles at Ibrox is merely the icing on the cake.
On the day before the cup final itself the club announced Brendan Rodgers as the news boss, rewriting the back page headlines in an instant, with a PR coup that was absolutely incredible and designed to cause maximum discomfort across the city. If Warburton was having doubts about his squad, that appointment made them acute.
In the space of that seven weeks the momentum has shifted completely.
Celtic are now selling big numbers of season tickets as the fans get ready to embrace a new era. 13,000 of them turned out for the official unveiling of the boss, an almost unbelievable response and one that shows just how totally the mood has changed.
Season ticket sales at Ibrox have gone well, but it’s thought there’s a numerical gap of some 10,000 between their business and ours, and that will be reflected in the respective budgets given to the managers Rodgers and, we presume, Warburton.
It’s a total mis-match.
The clubs are now in diametrically different places from where they were at full time that day, and whilst we’re looking forward to Champions League qualifiers they are competing in the group stages of the League Cup.
Whilst we’re thinking in terms of reaching a point where we can take on the likes of Real Madrid and the newly minted EPL winners Leicester, they are facing a fifth year without continental football and its exposure and the looming possibility of a ban over Resolution 12.
History will remember that Sevco won the semi-final.
But it also recalls that the Sioux won at the Little Bighorn, and that Pearl Harbour was a victory for the Japanese.
Because there’s winning the battle, and then there’s winning the war.
For their one day of glory, Sevco has bought itself uncertainty and pain, and whilst dark clouds swirl around Ibrox the big yellow sun is shining down on Celtic Park.
Seven weeks is a long time in football alright.