Ask the average Sevconut what their level of confidence for this campaign is and the odds are very good indeed that you will be met with bluster and arrogance and ego and an unswerving belief that this time they are “going for 55.”
Don’t waste your time pointing out that, actually, they are “going for number 1”, just ponder the meaning of the answer.
Outwardly, they believe they can do this.
But I’ll bet if you know how to read body language that you’ll see a very different thing. They put this across so aggressively, so vocally, so prominently you wonder if they are trying to convince you or just trying to convince themselves.
Theirs is still a club in serious financial peril. They have a rookie boss, a team half built of low-profile loanees, they are over-reliant on one goal-scorer and they have signed two players who walked out of Ibrox six years ago and who the fans said they’d never forgive.
Their club is not in a good place; it is getting a lot of positive hype but that’s not the same thing.
Their level of actual confidence can be measured by examining not the words that come out of their mouths but their general conduct, their general demeanour. And that paints a picture of a wretched club with fans who are clinging onto fraying self-control as they try not to ponder the apocalyptic consequences should this summer end in near-certain failure.
Over the last few months, even as the euphoria over Gerrard has been at its peak, directors have come and gone without media scrutiny. Promises to the supporters have been routinely broken. Court reversals have stunned the club and caused mayhem behind the scenes. The manager has signed eleven players and still says he needs more … that club is a model of instability. And deep down, the fans over there know this full well.
And the biggest sign that they do is their own conduct, the rash of violent incidents involving them at home and abroad, culminating, last night, in a brutal attack on McDonald’s staff right here in Glasgow. Their supporters are on the brink of detonation. That a mere 800 of our fans need to visit their ground later in this campaign scares the Hell out of me. God alone knows what they will have to endure over there. I worry about their safety.
The noxious mix Sevco fans have dined on for the last six years has toxified a section of their support to a degree I have never before seen. Their decision – aided and abetted by the media and the governing bodies – to ignore the reality of what happened to them in 2012 allowed the establishment of the Survival and Victim lies and they have morphed into the sick fascination many of them have with the idea that the world hates them. Their embrace of all the supremacist guff that was weaved around Rangers, and their inability to understand that it was a club built on unsustainable debts, has collided with the reality of Celtic’s dominance on and off the field and given them a profound inferiority complex which forever clashes with their outward bravado. It was always going to explode at some point.
Most people thought it would come at a moment of adversity; I always suspected that it would emerge at a moment when they were outwardly proclaiming their confidence, especially if that belief was built, as this is, on crumbling foundations.
Everything they are doing right now reeks of desperation, and all involved probably realise that this could be the last throw of the dice before we hit ten titles. They cannot repeat this summer all over again. If Gerrard falls it’s hard to see where they go next.
Celtic has its own problems, and they are pretty clear to us all. They have given Sevco a shot in the arm, or at least you would think they have. Yet people can see that the fundamentals are unchanged. That the club itself is strong. That the manager is still the best in the country. We are sitting in a strong position, and they know that full well.
To some, it looks like we’re wobbling. But to be blunt, we can perhaps afford a wee wobble or two. Few of our fans actually believe that we’re looking at a serious title challenge this year. Things are rocky because our Champions League knock-out is still reverberating around our collective consciousness; when the dust settles I am sure we’ll get back to doing what we do best; winning games on the park. Filling the trophy room.
This is not ego. It is confidence flowing from the facts and from historical precedent.
Sevco has no facts to bolster its self-image. It has no history.
Even now, in the centre of a mini-storm, whipped up in the press our club is keeping cool, keeping calm.
What does that tell you?
Over at Ibrox, in spite of their outward confidence, their club is responding in a flaky manner by continuing to build an unsustainably large squad. The fans are confident on the surface, but lashing out in public at everyone within arms-length. And King continues to hide and try and evade the Takeover Panel from South Africa.
If we judge them on their actions and not their words, what do we find?
What would you find if people thought that Armageddon was around the corner? They’d be running through their savings, fighting in the streets, mayhem would erupt across the world. Desperation would be in the air, palpable, even as every charlatan and maniac was out there with a sandwich board promising a miracle, for a price.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?