There are people inside Celtic Park who look across the city with envy. Not at a well-run club, but at one which commands fanatical loyalty from a support who will swallow anything. I am not saying those people want a gullible support who can be shaped with ease and who will simply tolerate anything, but they see full stands even in the midst of crisis and wonder whether our own fans would be quite so “loyal.”
Let me put their minds at ease; Celtic fans have ten times the loyalty of the Sevco support. They mistake blind obedience for being “staunch”. Staunch is nonsense. It is a suicide pact. It doomed their old club. It will wreck the current one.
Celtic’s support is loyal to the club, and to the idea of the club. When Celtic fans stayed away during Delia’s second year, when they made their frustrations known, it was because our fans care. It is not a sense of entitlement, it stems from having a genuine, emotional, connection that cannot be broken. It stems from wanting the best for us.
Certain people at Celtic Park have differing ideas about what is best for us. That happens at every club. The media seems to believe that life in the garden is rosy across town, but I know for a fact that it’s not and so do they. I’m not going into that today, we have our own problems to worry about, but it’s an example of the press behaving as they do.
Nevertheless, when the press says that there are cracks appearing at Celtic Park that is not wishful thinking and it is not speculation. They are saying it because it’s true and only when the club gets fully behind the manager and his plans will things get better. We know Brendan Rodgers is not an unreasonable man. We know his team building plans will be realistic. He knows the conditions under which our club works.
It has been clear for weeks that something was wrong behind the scenes. The glacial pace of transfer negotiations has been disgraceful. The manager’s frustration was being echoed by many of the fans before he made his feelings public. The board ignored us. They cannot ignore the manager. The board knows season tickets have been bought … they cannot guarantee that he will hang around if he feels that he’s being hamstrung.
But the worst case scenario here is not the manager leaving, of course. That would provoke outrage, of course, but not necessarily carnage. The worst case scenario is if the situation inside the club affects what happens on the pitch to such a negative extent that we lose our stranglehold on Scottish football … that would spark mayhem.
Celtic has a head-start over all of our Scottish rivals that should put us over the hills and far away. I have long argued that no other club can hurt us. If this is all going to come crashing down it will be because we did it to ourselves, either through complacency or bad management. Both afflict us at the moment, and those who are not meeting their responsibilities had better be well aware of how ugly the mood will turn if things start to slip on the home-front.
In spite of delirious drooling in Sevconia today, we are still massive, overwhelming, favourites to win the SPL and by a considerable distance. As usual their celebrations and optimism are grossly premature. Let them have their wee moment, I know that they will be haunted soon enough. We’ve just had a bad spell, but it will take more than that to halt us.
If the transfer window shuts without significant strengthening of this team it will be an outrage, and our manager will be fully entitled to re-consider his position. He reminded Radio Scotland today that he has a three-year deal and has said he has no intention of leaving.
I was glad to hear that public declaration but I’m not daft enough to believe that it makes everything okay. The problems behind the scenes are real and will need real solutions.
Everyone up at Parkhead had better realise that this has to be solved quickly.
The consequences of not doing so are going to be enormous and this is not Celtic fans being unreasonable; we should still be on a high from the summertime and last season’s success; that we are not is entirely self-inflicted. No club has been able to lay a glove on us, but we’ve punched ourselves in the face.
This club is in the strongest position it’s been in for the time I’ve been alive.
That will not save the board if they preside over failure.
In fact, it’ll be exactly what damns them.
To lose now, from here, would be wholly unacceptable and we would want someone to blame for that.
Because that, the Celtic fans are not going to forgive people for if these issues aren’t fixed.