Football fans are often accused of being fickle. I get accused of it myself, with yesterday being a prime example.
At half time I was scunnered with the poor level of our performance. At full time I was delighted. But I don’t think it’s wrong to be unhappy at the midway point of a game you’re losing 2-0 without getting a shot on target.
As someone much smarter than me once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind.”
In hindsight, maybe I should have had a little more faith.
But a 2-0 half time deficit is what it says on the tin. So is a home win against one of your nearest rivals.
But whereas the half-time score yesterday didn’t reflect the potential of Celtic I don’t think Sevco fans should think yesterday’s victory means much more than a delay to the inevitable. And what’s more, they don’t think so either. The radio and the papers said their fans were “delighted” at the end and one said the result was greeted with “exaltation” … but a deeper part of these people knows that in the grand scheme of things it hasn’t helped.
We saw a similar thing at Celtic, as the Ronny Deila era wound down to a close. There were games where we sneaked wins late, games where we struggled, games where we greeted the full time whistle with relief. And every time we eked out a win, we knew that ultimately it had put off the reckoning for another week. We knew it was leading to a disaster, that eventually it would reach a point where it couldn’t go on.
We’ve all experienced those kind of things in our personal lives as well, and when you get to a stage like that – whether in a job, a relationship, whatever – where you feel like you’re simply marking time towards the end, the real torture isn’t found in contemplating that outcome but in all times when something good happens that forces you to put it off another bit longer, some act of kindness or good day at the office which stalls forward momentum.
There were days last season where Celtic had won a match and the internet was full of people urging the doubters amongst us to believe in the manager. The league table doesn’t lie, they said. We were top and that’s what mattered. But was it?
We’re top today, but the difference in how we’re playing and in how that’s been achieved is like that between day and night.
We didn’t want to win a league title by default, by way of being the best of a bad lot. We didn’t want to see us stumble and fumble and lurch this way and that and then collapse over the line. I know why some of their supporters would settle for getting second spot that way, but they can’t seriously believe that’s a guarantee with this guy at the helm.
Their fans never wanted Deila to fall.
Whether they admit it to themselves or not, they realised that he was the only thing stopping us from being over the hills and far away, that if we got rid of the likeable Norwegian and brought in someone driven and who make the at emotional connection with the guys in the stands that it was over, for years to come.
Celtic fans don’t particularly care who winds up in the Blue Room next, but we’re enjoying the spectacle of watching the Englishman blow it and would happily see him reign over the Peepul for the next ten years.
Yesterday was a single game, a win against a team run by a guy so weak that he telegraphed his lack of faith in his players to the media in the days before the match. Serial underachievers, led by a serial loser, this result, this one win, has apparently lifted the mood at Ibrox. The manager was in the papers telling everyone how he’s proved the doubters wrong. Is he for real? Are the fans who are buying into this? Is everything suddenly alright?
Their smarter fans know that once the euphoria of this result evaporates that they’ll be right back where they were midweek; screaming for this guy’s head on a spike. They are marking time. They know that this has to end, and they know it only ends when the disaster on the park is too overwhelming to ignore.
They’re marking time.
The wait goes on. The end is not nigh.
How glorious it is.