Here’s why it’s so stressful to be on that unbeaten run; everyone wants to be the team that ends it.
Teams give everything in the games against us. Results suggest that they give more than they can afford to. We have drawn five games this season, twice against Hibs. Not one of the four team who has snatched a point has used it as the springboard for better things.
In fact, snatching a point from Celtic has cost all these teams at least two.
On no occasion has a team drawn with us only to win their next game. Four times out of five teams have lost it, which is doubly true in Hibs case. Only St Johnstone – the first team to do it – didn’t lose the game immediately afterwards. They drew it. They lost the one after that.
I noticed this first against Motherwell.
They exhausted themselves in the course of the cup semi final and the league game that followed it. They were dying on their feet by the time the full time whistle went at Fir Park. No wonder they were so bitter in the aftermath. A freshened up Celtic made easy work of them in the game at Parkhead.
Motherwell still haven’t sufficiently recovered. Hearts and Thistle have beaten them in their last two games. Their players are shot. They left it all out on the field at Hampden and then in the bitter, angry, league match that followed. It’s like they’ve got nothing left.
When St Johnstone took the first points off us in the current campaign they dropped points against Hibs in the next match. They then lost to Dundee. Hibs were the next side to take points, at Celtic Park. They lost to Aberdeen a fortnight later. For Kilmarnock it was worse. When they took a point from Celtic they must have hoped their season was just starting. They lost the next match and then one won from their next three.
Hibs won a lot of plaudits last weekend for their late rally against us. They played incredibly well against Sevco in midweek, but still lost. Today Aberdeen buried them, pure and simple. Their failure to take points in any of their last two matches is not a surprise when one considers the recent history. This is a visible pattern.
Why is it that these teams can raise their games for one 90 minutes, and then collapse into mental and physical exhaustion in the aftermath?
Is it a coincidence? Our form has been up and down this season, but for five teams to take points of our unbeaten team and to then fail to win their next games – and sometimes suffering a run of bad results – does not look like a coincidence to me.
It looks to me as if managers push their teams harder than they should in those games, and that it has negative impacts on them in the matches that follow.
Here’s something that seems to support the theory; last season we drew four times against four different teams; Inverness, Sevco, Ross County and Partick. In every single instance the team that took points off went on to win their next game.
This season, wholly different.
Because we’re still unbeaten.
Because we’re Invincible.
And every team in Scotland is desperate to end that run.