If you listen very carefully, you’ll notice the tone surrounding the coming Scottish Cup semi final has changed ever so slightly in the last couple of weeks.
It’s really been something.
As it’s done so, the pressure has begun to tell on the rival bosses in different ways.
First, the coverage has changed from being full of Sevco swagger and confidence to telling us how Ronny is the manager with everything to lose, and that even a defeat wouldn’t be a disaster for Sevco. When people start talking about losing a cup semi final as if it’s nothing … they’re scared.
And that’s just the reaction of the press!
Ronny has used the game as a motivating tool.
He’s experimented with different formations and line-ups. He’s given players who want to shine an incentive and Patrick Roberts, in particular, has seized his chance. He looks like a “must-pick” for that game. His pace, his close control, his composure … it’s all something to see. He adds a new dimension to our team.
Over in the blue corner, things aren’t quite so nice.
Their form has tanked, which is a way of saying the “great run” they were on is well and truly at an end. In truth, as most of their most honest fans will admit, it was largely a myth to begin with; they weren’t setting the world on fire. They struggled a lot of the time. But their form since their “sensational win” over Dundee has been terrible. They’ve been conceding goals at a fine old rate; ten in the four games since.
Their manager has changed his tune on visiting Celtic Park too.
When I wrote my piece on Ronny Deila and The Art of War, I said that Warburton’s arrogance in thinking it wasn’t necessary to watch Celtic was going to be a huge issue for his club. Amazingly, he seems to have grasped that and is now planning a “scouting mission”.
This kind of change is the sign of a man under pressure. Yes, it’s the right move … but he’s reversed himself. He looks indecisive as a result, a guy unsure of his footing all of a sudden. He really is reeling under the pressure, as demonstrated by his comments about Neil Lennon’s innocuous remarks.
As I said in a previous piece, everyone is allowed an opinion on the coming game, even those which favour Celtic and don’t, in any way, suggest that Sevco are capable of getting a result … but what the media will not allow is any criticism of the Sevco boss, because that would suggest underlying problems at the club.
There are underlying problems there, of course. But they’re for another article.
What’s clear is that they are stuttering and looking vulnerable. Their defence is ropey, and occasionally shambolic. Celtic’s, on the other hand, looks much improved with Sviatchenko in the side. He impresses because he’s cool, composed, he is commanding in the air and can play on the ground. I like him a lot.
Sevco’s defence hasn’t come up against anyone with the potency of Griffiths or the flair of Roberts. With all respect to the strikers and attacking players in the Championship, they don’t come near to these guys. If he plays, Tom Rogic will dominate the midfield with his attacking prowess and eye for goal. Certain players at Celtic are coming into form at the right time, although Leigh could use a break as he’s looking like he’s lost a little form lately.
But all that aside, we’re picking up points. We’re not conceding goals. The players have shown they are willing to work hard, and a couple of players are emerging as real stars, at just the moment when we need that the most.
They’re rattled, and starting to show it.