I was going to start this by offering congratulations to all Sevco fans, and their team, for reaching their first Scottish Cup Final. Their team outplayed and outfought us. They dug in, they pressed hard, they were much the better team over the course and deserved – thoroughly deserved – their win.
Their conduct changed my mind about that. It was 120 minutes plus of bile and hate and one banner in particular which summed up the number of diseased minds within the support. I have no wish to waste another word on any of them.
Fellow Celtic fans, we’re in a bad spot.
I’m sitting here right now about 9o minutes after the full-time whistle blew and I’m reflecting on a dire display and some of the most negative tactics I’ve ever witnessed from a Celtic boss. The high pressing game we were promised, the attacking football, it wasn’t there at all. Today was the antithesis of what we were supposed to get from this manager and from this squad. No-one can defend that, or his deplorable record, any longer.
Three cup semi-finals under this guy have ended up in surrender.
Not defeat, which is bad enough. Surrender.
Complete, total, unbelievable.
His defenders have always had something to fall back on though; bad refereeing decisions, red cards … it was always going to take something horrific to pull the blinkers off and focus people on the truth.
Is this horrific enough for you?
The writing has been on the wall for months, and if there’s a silver lining to this (of course there isn’t, but I’m reaching, okay?) it’s that any plan the board had to keep this guy in post – and regular readers will know I believe they’d decided to do just that – went over the side and down into the dark today.
Rip that up for starters.
He’s gone, and the only regret any of us should have over it is that he didn’t go a lot quicker.
Those who wanted him given time, you got your wish. He ought not to get a second more. Not one. Not till the end of the season, not till the end of the month or even the end of the week. If he’s still in post tomorrow morning then those above him aren’t simply sleeping at the wheel, but driving in a coma and ploughing our club into an oncoming wall.
But a little bit of that would show the world some steel for once instead of this pitiful and gutless image they have of us right now.
But you know what?
It isn’t enough.
It isn’t nearly enough.
It’s not going to be enough if the manager did clear out his desk tonight and hopped the first flight back to Norway.
Because he’s only part of the problem.
He’s only partly to blame.
There’s no excuse for this guy any longer though.
Fans don’t believe in a single aspect of his “leadership”, and that’s reflected in everything from signings to tactics.
I mean, just for a minute let’s take the former; if you believe “those in the know” his number one signing target this summer (and how these people celebrated that he’d “got his man”) was Nadir Ciftci. Who played less than a dozen games for us before going out on loan. Hard as it is to believe, he was replaced by another Turkish player who’s even more useless and who, in the hour of our great need today we couldn’t even reliably turn to because of concerns over his temperament.
His contract ought to be torn up first thing in the morning, because he’s purely and simply a waste of a dressing room peg.
Other signings have been baffling.
Scott Allan? What was the point?
Ryan Christie? Where in God’s name is he?
Why did we remove him from an Inverness side where he was playing every week to let him rot and regress in the Development Squad at Celtic Park?
Why don’t we have a right back to cover for Lustig?
Are we watching the utter ruination of Stuart Armstrong?
Because no-one will convince me that he would have had a lesser impact today than Scott Brown.
Today we put the burden of our whole squad on Kiernan Tierney, a kid, and Patrick Roberts, another kid and one we’ve got on loan.
I thought the decision to play Roberts was the right one, but Gary Mackay Steven should never have started that game in front of Commons and Johansen, who is a waste of a jersey, ought never to have started in front of Rogic.
I’m tired of his tactics.
I’m tired of his excuses.
I’m tired hearing promises that he knows what’s wrong and how to fix it.
I’m tired of one man up front and of like for like substitutions.
He has no tactical imagination whatsoever.
But all of this most of you already know, and those who don’t are impervious to reason and to logic or common sense. They are dangerous to themselves and the rest of us, and to Celtic most of all. I’m no longer willing to sugar coat that out of respect for them.
Changes are needed at Parkhead and they can be human shields for Peter Lawwell and others all they like, but they had better understand that there’s no middle ground any longer on which they and others are going to be able to meet.
If change has to be forced, it will be.
What happens next?
Who the Hell knows?
But I know one thing.
It’s time the people at Celtic Park who hold the power started thinking long and hard about how they want to use it.
I’m referring to the guys who buy season tickets, not those who take their money and then ignore their views.
If you continue to fork over your cash without demanding change then you are as culpable as those cashing the cheques.
There are supporter organisations that have watched this stagnation without opening their mouths once.
Whatever they’re trying to protect – free tickets, access, an easy life – it’s time for them to find their voices and be leaders.
Because we need leaders amongst the support as much as we need them inside Celtic Park itself.
The Trust, the Association, the Affiliation and all the rest … your own silence is deafening and there must be people amongst you who know this is all going wrong, and before anyone asks I’m not putting myself forward for a leadership role.
I know where my talents lie and they don’t lie there.
But I do know what needs to be done.
Ronny Deila’s tenure, every disastrous second of it in the last twelve months, flows from a flawed and failed strategy which has brought us to the brink.
Without acknowledging that, and dealing with that reality, we’re on a hiding to nothing.
We’ll not be able to attract a manager of the calibre to pull us out of this. We won’t have the ambition or the drive to do what even now remains within our ability … to move so far ahead of the rest in Scotland that we can’t even see them in the rear-view mirror.
It’s not too late to be all we can be.
But things have to change.
The power lies in the hands of the fans, those who buy tickets, those who make up the supporters buses and those who hold shares.
Their voices are silent, and it’s time they were heard.
Renewal time is coming up.
Whatever it takes, those people have to show the way, whether that’s a public statement that says certain groups, buses, organisations what have you won’t be renewing season tickets until some kind of vision is outlined or shareholders asking for an EGM to discuss a full-scale strategic review … something’s got to give.
The time for being passive observers is over with.
Celtic fans either start working to end this or it’s going to go on and on and on.
This has been an emotional and exhausting day, and it’s been a bad one.
Something good has to come out of it, even if that’s simply all of us taking stock and asking; “What can I do to make this club great again?”
And from there, we really can see a silver lining.