Well, well, well … at the weekend the hacks finally got around to asking Neil Lennon what he thinks of the coming Scottish Cup semi-final.
They asked him who he thought would win.
And Neil said Celtic.
As every right thinking person, without looking at things through blue tinted specs, would have to agree with.
We’re top of the SPL. We have 14 full internationals (at last count) in our first team squad. We are clearly the favourites and our players have been over the course and won major cup semi-finals already. Our manager has experienced Hampden. He’s won something there. These are just some of the reasons why.
This, essentially, is what Neil has said.
Of course, his answer has gone down like a lead weight with the hacks.
Their reaction – a mixture of eye rolling disbelief and disgust – makes me wonder why they even bothered to ask in the first place.
As I said, the answer is obvious to anyone who’s not a Scottish hack or a Sevconian.
Their response is intriguing though.
This is a question they’ve asked a hundred different people, and every time got a predictable answer. But it’s their reaction to Lennon’s reply which, naturally, piques my interest. It’s unlike their response to any other.
When they asked Andy Goram, John Brown and others what they thought they accepted their replies with barely a word.
Even when Chris Sutton said Celtic would win, and John Hartson, Frank McAvennie and others agreed there wasn’t a demur.
That was seen as their opinions, and they were accepted as that without criticism.
But Neil’s verdict is different.
The media can’t just accept that, particularly as it’s based on logic and an examination of the bona fides of the Sevco manager. It’s also, by extension, Lennon saying that Deila is a better boss, and that is so far against the standard media narrative that it just cannot be allowed to stand.
It has to be scrutinised, and if necessary disproved.
That’s why the hacks are canvassing views on it, that’s why they’re discussing it amongst themselves; they are unable simply to accept this reply.
Putting it simply, no criticism of Warburton can be allowed in the run up to this game. Other tipsters, who’ve taken Celtic to win, have done so saying that Celtic are simply a better team, with better players. No-one, until Neil, has suggested that this might come down to which of the managers can handle the occasion better … and his real sacrilege is to suggest that it won’t be the one with the “magic hat.”
Nothing in the run-up to this game has summed up the media more than their reaction to this particular interview. What scares them most is that Lennon is almost certainly right … but that’s another truth that, in Scotland, dare not be acknowledged.