Yesterday, two very different press conferences were held at the Glasgow clubs the media likes to refer to as “the big two.”
They couldn’t have been more different.
The Celtic one was a relaxed affair, as befits our situation at the moment, with the club flying and having just secured the first trophy of the season. It’s all good cheer at Celtic Park.
The second one was with Sevco, and it was an altogether more curious affair. Warburton is still inexplicably moaning about a decision he freely admits the referee got right – one internet meme of the incident says “How can it not count? We were celebrating!” – and nit-picking at every hack. His acid responses to even the smallest degree of criticism are becoming famous.
Right now he looks like one of those guys you sometimes see at public meetings, the Angry Neighbour type who gets up to make his point and starts losing his shit halfway through. He realises he’s blowing it, that he’s making the worst possible impression, and entrenching views instead of opening minds, but he just can’t help himself from making it worse.
He ought to grow a thicker skin, but in the time he has left at Ibrox he’ll get by without it. But the critics now surround him, and the club. Souness is the latest to weigh in, giving the manager a pass but with a pointed critique of Dave King and the way the club is run.
I’ve always found Souness to be an arrogant sod, but there was always a part of me that had admiration for him and at one time I wouldn’t have been sorry to see him in the Scotland job. This week he’s been spot on, accusing King of misleading the fans and making promises he couldn’t keep. Souness said had he and his famous consortium got their hands on the club they would have forced it to confront reality and live within its means … an astonishing admission but a welcome one from someone connected to Ibrox.
Andy Halliday spoke alongside Warburton, and I found his tone rather illuminating.
He said there had been another dressing room bust up. He told some home truths to his own team-mates. This is the guy who’s falling out with Barton saw the Englishman relegated to the reserves, and from what I can gather Barton did nothing that Halliday himself didn’t do yesterday.
The other hilarious thing that came out of the sit down with the media was Warburton’s boast about being on the verge of a blue chip signing, complete with the caveat that most of the fans might not have heard of the player in question.
You could bust a gut listening to these guys.
Brendan, on the other hand, was smooth and cool, handling the questions he was asked with assurance and calm. I actually don’t like our players mouthing off about unbeaten runs; I’ve said already I don’t think we’ll go unbeaten, but whilst I usually don’t think the pressure of trying to maintain a run like that is helpful to a team in our case it can’t hurt. Because it would help alleviate some of the worries I have about players losing focus.
I also like that our players are confident. Brendan was quick to correct journalists who accused them of being arrogant. I hope their attitude doesn’t turn into that, but a little swagger is understandable and even necessary to a team that wants to do great things. This is exactly the sort of confidence I want to see coursing through a Celtic team, because success does start in the mind. Celtic’s players haven’t been this focussed in years.
We’re at Motherwell this weekend; that should be a typically tough encounter, but the team seems in good shape going into it. Except for the injuries to Tierney and Sinclair, we’re pretty close to being at full strength. One of the interesting things to come out of yesterday was the idea that we may yet see Gary Mackay Steven in a Celtic shirt; this is excellent. With Scott out we need someone who can deputise wide left, and Gary hasn’t had a chance to show Brendan what he can do.
Looking at the transformation in other players you have to be optimistic that the manager can find something in this lad.
There’s definitely something there to find.
This has been a good week to be a Celtic fan. We’ve celebrated a trophy win and watched the shambles across town with a grin.
I get the impression we’re going to enjoy the next week just as much.