The Scottish Premier League title race is over. Neither Aberdeen or Hearts are going to mount a second half of the season challenge. Both sides are spectacularly inconsistent, and although Cathro will improve their performance today at Ibrox was abject, as can be discerned from the pitiful match stats which show a single shot on target.
Aberdeen were similarly gutless last week.
Sevco is unbeaten at home for many months.
Teams fear Ibrox for reasons which are beyond comprehension.
Theirs is not a good team, and beating them at home should be as straightforward as defeating them away, but Scottish football teams are too made up of players and managers who are psychologically weak. In a few weeks we’ll go there and show them all how it is done, and I expect several bosses to say, in the aftermath, that Celtic have proved it’s possible, as if it never was before. They simply lack the mental strength to try.
I can’t blame Ian Cathro for today’s mess; he’s been in the job five minutes.
He will come good, but his side has spurned a great opportunity to have already cemented the second spot.
At Pittodrie there are no such excuses.
Derek McInnes is solely responsible for the unfolding disaster that is Aberdeen’s season. They dropped points today at home against St Johnstone.
They will not finish ahead of the Ibrox club, and if McInnes has designs on the hot-seat there when Warburton goes (it won’t be this season; I now have to conclude that he’ll do enough to stay in his job. Good. That’s exactly where we want him) he has done himself no favours. The prospect doesn’t exactly terrify Celtic fans.
How long will Aberdeen fans accept mediocrity? Because that’s what McInnes offers them; the status not only of also-rans to Celtic but a meek acceptance of living in the shadow of Sevco too. There was an opportunity for the Pittodrie club to secure a position as the second biggest in the country. Sevco’s shambolic situation should have assured that only Hearts stood in the way of it. But McInnes is a lousy coach and was always bound to screw this up.
Hearts and Aberdeen only have themselves to blame if Sevco is able to tie up that second place in the medium term. Scottish football will not have a two club duopoly again; Celtic are far in front of the Ibrox side and aren’t going to be caught in the foreseeable future. Instead what we might end up with is a wholly perverse position where one club is far in front of the rest and another club is sandwiched between us and them.
They will have allowed this because they’ve not been resolute in pushing through financial fair play rules before now. They will have allowed it because they lack ambition enough to tie down their best assets and because Aberdeen, at least, are short-sighted enough to allow a guy like McInnes to stay in his post when it’s blindingly obvious he’s gone as far as he can and he’s got no idea how to rise above the mediocrity of his own limited approach.
Sevco has played 18 times this season. Warburton might pretend ignorance of why so many of his club’s fans don’t rate him and why the media has been critical, but his team has dropped points in almost half of those games; they have drawn five and lost three. In any other league that would be mid-table form.
In the SPL they sit second.
That’s not a measure of how good they are; it’s a measure of how inconsistent everyone else is. Teams who moan about Celtic spoiling Scottish football want to take a look at the statistics; in addition to Sevco’s dismal form Aberdeen have dropped points in eight games (four losses and four draws) and Hearts in ten (six draws and four defeats.)
If one of those sides were capable of better form the gap at the top would be a lot less … and either Hearts or Aberdeen would have a substantial lead in the number two slot.
We’re not even halfway through the season, and you can call it already. Celtic will be champions. Sevco will finish second. Who finishes third? Right now, who cares? If the clubs have chucked it why should the rest of us give a toss?