Shortly before the AEK Athens game the other night, I published a piece on Chris McLaughlin and a conversation he had claimed to have had with a Celtic insider. That conversation reported the “surprise and anger” inside Parkhead about Brendan Rodgers’ media conference earlier in the day. That article was received well in some quarters and not in others; the question was asked as to whether or not I believed McLaughlin and I said I did.
I also defended the writing of the article; whether anyone likes it or not, such a thing is a story that no decent writer would ever ignore.
It was a troubling piece to write, but it needed to be done to bring the issues to the fore.
We cannot slate the media for the state of the news. I never do that. I slate them most often for what they will not write and every now and again for something they have written falsely or with a touch of spin. And yes, it’s going to be one of those days.
This will be one such article.
But in terms of Wednesday night, few can doubt now that McLaughlin told it true and so Brendan’s decision to air his grievances in the media drew a response from the club which yesterday drew a response from the manager … and on this might go until everyone involved gets a grip on things and calms down a little bit.
Yes, there are things happening behind the scenes at Celtic that are causing frustration.
I am now minded to think that they really ought to have stayed there, behind the scenes.
Fans are not unaware that the club hasn’t brought in players to strengthen the squad, it’s a self-evident fact and we were not going to miss it. Brendan was preaching to the choir; as the politico in me remembers well though, that’s how you get them to sing.
So I do understand Brendan’s frustration – I have made the same points about our lack of transfer business over and over and over again myself – and even the reasons he chose to articulate it. I also understand why people inside Celtic were angry that he had.
What we all need now is for everyone involved to put the guns away pronto.
This has been days of negative press and almost all of it was self-inflicted.
But not all of it.
Today’s headlines about Brendan Rodgers issuing an “ultimatum” to the board are the most diabolical bullshit I’ve seen in many a year.
The answer he gave yesterday when asked if his ambition matches that of the board – he said “that’s private” – were enough to give many of us palpitations and were the stuff of a headline writer’s dream … but they weren’t satisfied with that.
Instead they took another Brendan Rodgers answer and completely twisted its meaning and turbo-charged it into some kind of threat to resign.
Brendan Rodgers did no such thing.
That threat did not happen.
He has never once suggested that the internal frustrations he feels would force him out of the club.
It is not simply hyperbolic to suggest otherwise, it is a barefaced lie and many in our media, who have the full transcripts of what the manager said – and I can send them some if they don’t – are wilfully, deliberately, knowingly, spreading that lie.
I can only assume they are doing so to cause the maximum trouble.
The question Brendan Rodgers was asked, and which drew his answer about leaving, was not about the club’s ambitions but his own.
He was asked if he felt his own ambitions for this club were being degraded how would he feel and he answered honestly; if that happens he’s done. His time here is over. If he feels that desire is leaving him he’s finished.
Brendan wants to keep the fire burning, to keep aiming higher … no more, no less.
It takes real imagination and dedication to the writing of Total Pish to spin that as the media has.
And I say the media here; this was not one individual title, this was the whole rotten stinking shower that masquerades as a sports press corps in this country, the people who were perfectly content to sit in silence as the greatest scandals in the history of sport on this island unfolded in front of them but who will chase gossip and fluff and try to start fights over the length of grass all day, every day.
They are a disreputable and pathetic lot.
This was a week where I found myself defending one of them for doing the news; today is another example of why, even when they play with a straight bat, that a lot of our supporters disbelieve every single thing they say.
They cannot seem to help themselves.
They are destroying their own profession with their constant need to sensationalise, and their tendency to invent the stories they really want to write.