There’s a moment in The Wire which sums up how I feel about the Celtic manager’s position today.
It comes after a main character has been shot (I won’t name him) and two gangsters are talking about the murder.
One wants to start shooting the enemy the very same day.
The other is more circumspect, because he knows a terrible truth he doesn’t want to tell.
Eventually his angry soldier gets the drift. But by then it doesn’t matter at all. He tells his boss that whatever the truth, they’re at war now. The perception on the street has hardened into reality and it doesn’t matter what relationship truth has to that word.
Out there, people believe it was an act of war, and if the crew wants to keep its credibility they have to act as if it was.
“If it’s a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight,” he says.
When I was involved in politics, I learned that the worst fear every candidate has is that he or she will lose control of the “narrative”. This has nothing to do with the truth; the narrative is the story you present to the world about how something is, or came to be.
If the narrative unravels and someone else can set the tone of the debate then that’s the game well and truly stuffed.
Is it fair? Hell, no. It’s just the way things work.
I said in a previous piece that I am offended when people insinuate that myself and others have “turned on Ronny” because of the media. We’ve become disillusioned because of results and performances. It’s really that simple. It’s the stuff we’ve seen with our own eyes that’s made us feel this way, and has led to the public disgruntlement.
Ronny Deila is at the centre of a perfect storm here, and some of that is his own fault and some it is just losing control of the narrative.
Does it really matter if he’s lost the dressing room? If we’re a point better off than we were this time last year? Does it matter that we’re out of Europe and the League Cup at the same stage of the season where we were in both last year? If we’d made it to the final against Hibs, would things be different?
No, of course not.
My confidence was shot weeks ago, and I said then I didn’t see any way that it was going to be restored.
The feeling in my gut when Ambrose went off in the semi-final was that the game was over, although it was early in the match and we had a 1-0 lead.
When we went 2-0 down last night, my feeling was that it was three points dropped although there was a second half still to go.
I have no faith anymore, and at this point what does it matter whether I came to that conclusion on my own or was led to it, like the idiot some people evidently think I am, by the media?
The way I feel, the way many of us feel, has hardened into certainty.
I wish it wasn’t so, but there’s no changing it now.
On some level we’re all simply marking time until this is over, and that might not be fair but it is there, and it will be until he’s gone.
I didn’t think we’d win last night.
I wasn’t even remotely surprised by the result.
The article I wrote at full time, and posted here, was one I regard as amongst the most damning I’ve ever written, but it was clearly way too subtle for a lot of people to get because some on Facebook thought I was settling for our falling over the line first in a one horse race.
With the resources at our disposal, our best home of winning the title lies in the weaknesses of Aberdeen.
I said last night that we’re now in a white-knuckle death race to the finish; I thought that was easily the harshest criticism you could level at this Celtic team.
I thought it might scare some folk and appal them as much as it scares and appals me.
People can quote stats all they like, and many are. Deila himself was quoting them fulsomely last night, in terms of how we’d only lost three games in the league. But we’ve dropped points this season in seven games; almost one third of those we’ve played.
We’ve crashed out of the League Cup in an abject surrender in spite of being a goal in front.
And Europe … well, it was a shameful, humiliating shambles which no Celtic boss ought to have survived.
Some of those who still support the manager have asked when winning the treble became the benchmark on which we judge Celtic bosses.
The question is disingenuous, because those self-same people used the pursuit of that treble as his shield when that disastrous and disgraceful Europa League campaign came to its ignominious end.
It was they, themselves, who elevated it to major importance, and some of us never did.
Quite the opposite, in fact; speaking for myself, I said weeks ago that I didn’t think we were capable of winning it and I didn’t want the manager to remain in charge even if we did because there’s a bigger picture here and the prospect of him taking us into Champions League qualifiers next season fills me with dread.
Many of those of us who’ve reached the end of the rope know how we got here, and what caused us to.
The people who criticise us for feeling this way, many of them feel morally superior to us as they are “real Celtic fans”, whilst others feel intellectually superior, telling us that we simply don’t understand how the world of football works or suggesting we’ve been led astray by the press.
For all their smugness, this is unravelling before all of our eyes.
We’re down to the wire, three points between us and a side with a fraction of our resources.
Will we get over the line?
Yes, I think we probably will, but it’ll be because Aberdeen don’t seem capable of winning enough of their remaining fixtures to get to the summit ahead of us.
That is not a statement of confidence in Ronny Deila or Celtic.
This is an acknowledgement of how bad we are, whilst suggesting that Aberdeen aren’t quite good enough yet.
We’re here now, and we’re bracing ourselves for the end-run.
Those who say this isn’t the time for sacking the manager only have one thing to fall back on, the tightness of the title race they assured us would be over months ago, and in a sense they have a point, of sorts, because, of course, the proper time for doing that was at the start of January, when the window opened, rather than leaving it until we were here, out of the League Cup, league lead cut to the bone, when the uncertainty might only do us equal or greater harm.
Besides, who’s the most likely candidate to succeed him, with 14 games left?
There’s an obvious answer, and to those who think things couldn’t get worse … I’d advise you to take a deep breath and think again.
But fear of doing something was never a good argument for doing nothing.
We have bigger considerations than just the short-term effect of a change.
A new manager needs time to work with players, to analyse the squad; these people are suggesting that if Ronny has flogged the dog that we stick with him anyway and then plunge us into a summer of speculation and uncertainty and the waste valuable time a new manager needs to get us ready for what comes afterwards.
Because to throw a new manager into that, into Champions League qualifiers, with a team he’s unfamiliar with, without having had time to impose his own mark on it … we might as well stick with the guy we’ve got and suck it up for another dismal year of this.
Time has run out.
It no longer matters whether those Celtic fans who criticise us are right or wrong.
Better supporters than we are? Yes, maybe they are; but so what?
The stats support Ronny? Maybe they do, but so what?
Are we just easily led mugs who don’t understand how things work? Maybe we are, but you know … so what?
I think we’re now in the majority.
Faith in “the project” has been shattered.
It no longer matters how we got here.
What matters is where we are.
Only the most blinkered can still be in denial about the one key truth at the centre of all this; the club will not move forward as one unless things change.
We either deal with that reality, or we all face the consequences.