Well, was it as good for you as it was for me?
More and more, the transfer window leaves me completely fed up and in need of a punching bag.
If you’ll excuse me a somewhat out-there analogy, the day itself is starting to resemble how a woman feels when her guy is always promises to do something special on her birthday (if you get the drift.) She keeps on hearing his boasts about how good he is in the sack, but year in year out, after she’s got herself worked up and in the mood for a long night of loving, he is, to use the modern parlance, gone in sixty seconds.
It’s unfulfilling. Not living up to the promise. The Earth does not move. Cannons do not blare. The mountains do not crumble. The Richter Scale needle fails even to tremble.
You get to the point where you feel not so much frustrated as you do stupid, for ever believing it would be other than it is. Because experience has taught you that this is how it goes, time after time after time. To paraphrase The Who, instead of learning our lessons we “get on our knees and pray that we won’t get fooled again.”
Yet we are. Almost every sodding year.
What threw us this year was that last year actually did inspire some confidence, with the long-awaited arrival of Stuart Armstrong and a ballsy, ambitious, move to bring John Guidetti to the club on loan. Initially, he looked like part of the answer.
As I said in a very irritated piece for Fields last night (which you can read below), it was dead easy to be optimistic this time last year.
We’d just wiped Sevco and their pretensions all over the Hampden pitch, a casually easy exercise that was like watching a dad play football against his son in a public park; a win gained with the minimum of fuss and exertion.
Another manager, one with the steel in his soul who wanted to give that mob a right going doing … and we’d have run up a cricket score.
We still had European football to look forward to. We were in one cup final and heading into the Scottish Cup full of ourselves. The treble was there for the taking. In the end we were to be denied it by diabolical refereeing … I still say that today.
This year we have no excuses at all.
Yeah, I didn’t think it was a penalty and it sure as Hell wasn’t a red card but that’s beside the point, because ten men don’t automatically fold the hand and chuck it and that creeping feeling of dread in the stands shouldn’t have been there.
The whole club is gripped by this right now, by apprehension and self-doubt.
It was there in the mental weakness we showed out on the pitch the other day. It was there in the manager’s press conference after the game, when he said that about the players … and then appeared to backtrack on it, showing his own indecision.
And, of course, there’s anger too.
There’s a lot of anger floating about.
You’ve probably noticed some of it on this site haha.
I apologise for the tone of some of it, that which comes from me, but not for the fact of it, because I would rather people were angry than fall into despondency and defeatism, which would be all too easy to do. Anger means people aren’t ready to give up.
As I am fond of saying, when you think the world is turning to shit you have two choices; you can make a bed or grab a shovel and get busy.
Anger helps you put your back into it too.
People at Celtic had better be paying attention to that anger. It has yet to coalesce into something substantial but it is coming and only the shockingly complacent or truly ignorant can think otherwise. The mood amongst many fans is verging on furious.
Those who defend The Strategy were at great pains to tell us that this would be the window when the questions would be answered.
We were told – and you know we were – that this when the squad would be rebuilt for the Champions League, that waiting for the summer was leaving too much to chance, that players needed time to settle into the system, that it would maximise our chances to qualify.
Some of us said that the biggest decision that needed to be made surrounded the manager, and that if people in the boardroom were wavering that this was the time to take the decision to part company with him.
We were told that this window would tell the tale, that if he was backed that told you they were sticking with him.
Was he backed?
One permanent signing, one player on loan and another on a free transfer … does that suggest they took his plans seriously?
Does it suggest they took our concerns seriously?
I can’t answer those questions, and the reason I can’t is that this looks like so many other transfer windows at this club. Mediocre. Flat.
To me, it doesn’t look like they did but what do I know?
Other people think he did. Those people think this has been a great window.
In some ways, they too are grabbing a shovel.
Ronald Reagan was particularly fond of the story of a kid who, expecting something great for Christmas, gets a pile of shit instead. He isn’t sad though; he immediately starts digging, with the words “How wonderful! There must be a pony in here!”
Don’t stop believing, guys.
Today one newspaper is suggesting that boardroom discontent has already led to discussions about who replaces Deila when he inevitably goes. According to The Belfast Telegraph, the Norwegian is expected to leave at the end of the season, and Michael O’Neill, the manager of Northern Ireland, is already being quietly sounded out.
Apart from this being another punt (I actually like him, but I liked Deila too at the start and now I don’t think we can afford to take another risk) I actually can’t fathom why that decision is being delayed for even a day longer than necessary.
If the board has run out of faith then, for his own sake as well as for ours, Ronny should be going now.
So, on the day after the window closes we’re left with even more questions than before.
Is the board really planning to change the manager in the summer, and if so is Michael O’Neill the best they’ve got?
Are we replacing one cagey proposition with another?
You wouldn’t think we have a massive match coming tomorrow night, but oh Hell how we do.
God help Deila if we slip up in that one.