Reading the BBC’s sneering article on not only the game on Tuesday but on our European performances as a whole was to read spiteful jealousy at its worst. There was the national broadcaster, talking down our team and the game here, in the most absurd tones. What that it has been another Scottish club who got that excellent result in Manchester, you just know the tone of that report would have been markedly different.
This bothers me somewhat, the hypocrisy of it.
These people can’t complain that we are too strong here in Scotland and then mock us for perceived failings in Europe that they know full well are a consequence of exactly the circumstances other clubs face here in opposition to us. They want to make their minds us what it is they really believe.
But this is all borne out of their anger at how far we’ve came.
Our manager has taken us further than any of us dared to dream. Already, before he’s even been in the job for half a season, he has transformed the fortunes of our team and made us look far better than we’d have dared to dream.
A year ago, who could have imagined this?
The first domestic trophy in the bag already. Giant strides made in Europe. Our dominance in Scotland is now total. Even the Sevco upstarts have been put firmly in their place, routed at Celtic Park and easily overcome at Hampden. Before this year ends, in a few short weeks, we’ll beat them at Ibrox too.
This is remarkable. This manager has utterly transformed the club and its prospects for the future.
Next season we’ll be back in the Champions League. We have qualifiers to navigate, but the task looks less daunting than it did before. Belief has returned to the players, and it is there again in the stands. People are optimistic in ways they’ve not been since the O’Neill team.
After a terrible start, we acquitted ourselves well in the group. With some additional signings we will only improve, and I expect us to bring in the players that requires. The critics who said we would lose every game can barely bring themselves to credit us for picking up points in three of them. Any credit we get is spat through gritted teeth.
The only credit this team requires though is that which comes from the stands, from the fans who know positive signs when they see them. Not only is there the evidence of the game in Germany and the home match with City but we can point to the game in Manchester and how just two of City’s “reserve players” – as the media cast them – cost a combined total greater than the signing fees of the entire SPL combined, and know that progress has been made.
This galls some of these people, and I understand their frustration. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Brendan was supposed to have taken over a team on its knees. Some of them predicted that there would have to be a mass clear-out of our squad and tens of millions spent putting things right; with the great talent at our club that was never going to be required, simply the hiring of a manager who could get the best out of them.
Brendan has surpassed not only our expectations, but also their darkest fears. Celtic looks like a club moving forward with purpose and strength and the one many of the hacks favour is floundering in an ocean of debts and incompetence at every level.
That tortures them. Hence the coverage.
It’s not for nothing that we feel such contempt for these people.