It’s taken me some time to write about Saturday’s game.
Like most you I’ve been busy watching it back over again about 5-dozen times on YouTube and the like. I’m actually meant to be submitting articles to James which involve my memories of the pre-McCann era. The dark times. Before the the fall of the empire. But it would be remiss of me as a Celtic blogger not to mention it.
Then mention it some more.
Then revel in it.
Then roll around in it over and over again.
What a day it was. Absolutely beautiful and I’m not referring to the weather which was okay at best.
The performance was what dreams are made of and the result could have been even greater. Of course the opposition were pretty awful but that’s not Celtic’s fault. Like all of their troubles that lies squarely with them no matter what they claim to the contrary. And let me be honest I didn’t see it coming.
Yes we had gone the entire season domestically unbeaten going in.
Yes we have become a well oiled machine under Brendan Rodgers.
And yes we had beaten them in 4 out of 5 previous encounters with a draw being the best they could achieve.
Not to mention the fact that only 6 short days previously we had easily beaten them 2-0 at Hampden whilst hardly ever getting out of 2nd gear.
Yet despite all that my expectations were low.
This was tainted by history. So actually I will be bringing up the pre-McCann years after all.
Like many I can remember the aforementioned dark days when Rangers would sweep us aside more often than not en route to their 9 in a row. Yet even in those years we would still deliver the odd Old Firm victory, usually at the end of the season when our opponents had either already secured the league or had such an unassailable lead it was a question of when rather than if. In terms of preventing their march towards equalling our own record it was a rather meaningless gesture which would give us no more than short lived bragging rights and a false sense of optimism about the next season.
And I thought the same would occur when the latest instalment of this new one-sided varient of the Glasgow derby came around at the weekend, only this time with the shoe on the other foot. I really believed that in front of their own fans and with some of our players potentially watching themselves for the cup final on May 27th, not to mention that they literally had to win to give themselves any chance of clawing back Aberdeen’s 9 point lead in second spot, that they would have an edge.
But how wrong was I?!!
Unlike Wattie’s team back in the day this Celtic side are relentless.
Even when there is nothing to play for they still produce the goods.
They saw an opportunity to put the light blues in their own backyard to the sword and boy did they take it.
Like many I’ve watched games against the Ibrox clubs – whether it’s Rangers or Sevco – and whether expectation is high, low or middling you always wonder if that’s the game where you do something special. The one where you run over the top of them and deliver an historic scoreline.
Of course rarely does it happen.
I was lucky enough to be at Celtic Park to witness us massacre them 6-2 which made up for the fact I’d had to work the Saturday when we ran them through 5-1 two years previously. I missed out on a ticket at the last minute when we pasted them 3-0 at Ibrox back in 2001.
I still remember post match phone calls from friends who had been there who were quick to tell me it had been “one of the best days of their lives.”
There was of course our early season mauling of the NewCo but since then Celtic have passed up numerous chances to put their city neighbours to the sword in the same relentless fashion. Hat fulls of chances have been created on numerous occasions but have seldom been converted.
Not on Saturday.
The 5 which were put away could have easily have been another 2 or 3 and it would still have flattered them.
Looking forward to next season there appears to be no good reason why such an occurrence would need to be so historic next time. Celtic are miles ahead of them both on and off the pitch. Pedro Caixinha appears to be getting exposed quicker than anyone could have imagined.
Yes he still requires time and his own players and will get that over the summer, to some extent at least.
But unknown youth coach Graeme Murty got far more out of the same group of players when he guided the Ibrox side to a respectable draw at Celtic Park back in March.
He seemed to understand that shutting up shop was the only real option.
Celtic looked sleepy and lackadaisical and Murty devised a pretty solid game plan to take advantage of that and it almost worked in terms of sneaking a victory. Pedro on the other hand decided to have a go. It proved disastrous and if he didn’t already he’ll now know for sure that he is in charge of what very much isn’t the best squad in Scotland.
On Monday on Sportsound Barry Ferguson, sounding rather understandably forlorn couldn’t see how his heroes could close the gap anytime soon. He pointed out that fourteen players are under contract until 2019 and another seven until 2020.
Therefore he could see no way for a clear out.
Maybe Mark Warburton has indicated he’s willing to pay to bring his duds down south to Nottingham but I doubt it.
No it looks like Pedro is going to have to work with what he’s got for the best part.
During the actual event, Ally McCoist working on Sky sounded similarly downbeat.
He saw no change being possible and seemed to accept that results like Saturday were going to be the way of things unless major amounts of cash were invested. However it may be wise not to take too much advice from Ally. He also claimed in the studio, live on air in front of the cameras that as he understood it the debt which eventually forced his beloved club into oblivion back in 2012 had in fact been “more than manageable.”
The worst kind of revisionism.
The most positive aspect of the fallout from Saturday is that finally, unequivocally and without question the knives are out for Dave King.
Not even he could spin 5-1 at Ibrox for Celtic.
The laptop loyal have turned and want answers almost as much as the baying hordes in the stands who themselves have descended to the point of making monkey chants, throwing batteries and raising legals fees for convicted sex offenders to run onto the patch and kiss the badge.
It really was an incredible day.
Paul Cassidy is a Celtic blogger who’s enjoyed the past week … a lot!