Between now and the end of this campaign, Sevco will play exactly one meaningful game, the one at Hampden against Celtic. As I’m sure we’ll win that match, there will not be a final for them to contest. They will lick their wounds, convince themselves that it was close – even if we score five without reply – and then try to pretend the match at Ibrox means something. It won’t. They’ll know it and so will we.
They are playing Motherwell this weekend but you would never know that. All talk in the Ibrox camp is fixed on the semi-final match. This is partly arrogance, and their dismissal of every other club as being irrelevant. It is partly obsession; they cannot go a day without casting envious glances at Celtic Park. Our club and what it does now defines theirs.
Think about it for a moment.
Warburton is a good case in point. He was brought to the club, along with McParland and others, to lay the foundations for the future. And when you actually think about it, he didn’t really do all that badly. He reached a Scottish Cup final in his first season and would certainly have reached the semi-final in his second. He got to a League Cup semi-final as well and was beaten by Brendan’s Celtic team. He had contested the second spot in the SPL.
Most managers of a newly promoted side would have been showered with compliments for doing all of that. But not this guy. Because he failed in the only job that counted to the board over there; challenging us. Nothing else mattered, and Caixinha is already on notice that he has to do better next season. The club can’t simply focus on getting things right … they want to stop us and they want to do it now. They will sacrifice any hope at all of future success on rolling the dice in one huge gamble, to prevent us getting another step nearer the record.
They sacked their manager and his entire backroom team solely on the basis that their newly promoted team didn’t challenge us for the title.
Which, when you think about it, is just nuts.
And this won’t end. If Caixinha doesn’t hit the ground running next season his neck will be in the noose. In fact, it could be in there a Hell of a lot sooner than that. Because if you listen to their players talk, and you catch the vibe out of there, they’ve actually downed tools and chucked it as far as this season is concerned. All the extra training sessions in the world won’t help get their performances right when their heads are already gone.
Their players are only focussed on the cup game.
I’ve heard a couple of them talk this week and it’s the same tune over and over again; how ready they are for Celtic.
We’re not the only thing happening in their world. We’re not the only club they have to play before this season ends. And we beat them twice and drew with them once in the league; that’s seven points. They are behind by a Hell of a lot more than that. It wasn’t our club that took all those others off of them … it was the full range of teams who’s existence they barely acknowledge and who’s threat they have completely written off.
Yet there’s a backhanded compliment to those other teams in their obesssion with us.
It suggests that they’ve mentally conceded second spot in this campaign.
Aberdeen are well in front of them, and I don’t think that they have the self belief or the class to make up the gap.
This why they are driven solely by what happens in four weeks.
For all their big talk, they’ve got nothing left to play for. Do you notice they don’t even talk about winning the cup itself? It’s all about stopping us. There’s no real belief that if they got to the final that they would win it. That speaks volumes.
As a result, the games which take place between now and that game are a mere distraction to them, and that ought to hand Aberdeen the initiative on a plate.
They play Motherwell at home this weekend, but they are only two games from a trip to Aberdeen itself, a game most of them appear not to care less about.
Their entire club is fixated on ours, which is precisely the charge they chuck at us but with the one difference I highlight over and over again; we are a solid, well run club, at the top of the league, rolling forward like a well-oiled machine. If our fans occasionally focus on the circus over at Ibrox we do so from a position of strength, and in the certainty we’re not missing important developments at home.
Our laughing at them is a luxury we can afford and our club does not define itself by what they get up to.
No club actually does, because more often than not what goes on over there is a lot like something from a Chuckle Brothers production.