Yesterday was one of those days in which the motives of our media really do come to the fore. Celtic is rolling on, seemingly unstoppable in Scotland, towards a seventh title.
In the press rooms, and at Ibrox, there’s genuine fear that this is leading to ten in a row … I’ve long wondered why they talk about that number as if it’s a stopping point; it’s a milestone, but Celtic won’t simply reach it and then quit. It is hardly the limit of our ambitions.
There are news stories everywhere in Scottish football.
If the media is bored with our supremacy or, if your name is Chris Jack just unable to deal with it, there are other things they can write about.
This website gave them five possible areas to look at just last week, in relation to the need for an SFA inquiry. E-Tims, in a splendid piece which I will elaborate on later, gave them another this very morning. There is plenty to do if they are feeling jaded.
Instead, some of them want to focus on garbage. Some of them want to trawl up negative stories about our players.
Scott Brown is a thuggish ned who in the words of Tom English “sometimes goes unpunished for things other players get sanctioned for.” Leigh Griffiths is a “pantomime villain” to one writer, and The Sun wanted to publish his full roll of dishonour.
Being a Celtic player automatically subjects you to an unusual level of scrutiny, but Brown and Griffiths are amongst a small number who get much more.
Scrutiny itself is no bad thing, but this isn’t scrutiny.
Griffiths has had his private life dredged up, regularly. Every booking Scott gets is blown up as proof that he’s a boot-boy with a captain’s armband. Griffiths does things to wind up fans, but as he’s pointed out he’s also run a gauntlet of thrown coins, bottles, and at the weekend even batteries … perhaps those which Pedro took out of his “rabbits”, judging by how knackered some of them looked during the game at the weekend.
This is not unexpected. The media likes a target, and these guys are a good one. There are players in our team who they’ve been trying to sell. Others they just want to discredit as much as possible. The focus on Griffiths has been relentless since he mocked the Ibrox fans last season. When he repeated the feat at Linfield their management team used it as a deflection tactic. It’s no shock to see that some of the hacks did the same for their favourite club.
But the tone of some of the reporting is ridiculous.
When Scott Brown was sent off against Ross County last season many of us said it was an unjust decision; the media’s response to our appealing that was so venomous I do believe it gave license to the Ibrox lunatic fringe, one of whom got on the pitch and attacked him. I read their websites before the match kicked off; Caixinha had already started the ball rolling with his ridiculous comments about people winding up his player, and their fans needed no encouragement to start in on Brown before the game even started. English helped to feed that paranoid narrative on Saturday although he exonerated Brown from the central charge, that he had thrown an elbow during the game.
You get sick of this, but at least we’re never surprised by it.