If I had spent yesterday watching my team be absolutely stripped of all its pretensions, leathered good style by a rival, beaten with consummate ease by a vastly better team, the very last thing I would want to read today, upon picking up a newspaper, is one of my players casually dismissing the result and the performance and suggesting the opposition weren’t as good as he’d heard.
I would be furious.
I would be pissed at the player, and at the manager for not having control over him, and for the club for not making its “line to take” policy clear.
Yet this is the Ibrox operation at its finest, and the preening arrogance that permeates the air there is such that you cannot help but feel that Goldson is speaking for the club itself. “We heard they were like Barcelona,” he said yesterday, blaming that sentiment on players no longer at the club, as if he and his colleagues were going to put that right.
Bang up job so far, Mr.
Because but for the keeper yesterday and the width of the bar that would have been a hiding on a par with anything that’s come before.
The thing is, of course, that if you were looking for a Scottish club swallowing itself whole with pride and vanity and ego run amuck you would not have to look much further than Sevco itself. All the talk about how Gerrard has “transformed” the team is so clearly nonsensical that I am amazed anyone could believe it for a minute.
The hacks forget that some of us actually watch football, even when it’s played by hoofing the ball up the park and hoping your strikers get on the end of it. Some of them forget that Sevco is on the telly more often than most other Scottish clubs and so we get ample opportunity to watch how they actually play as opposed to how they are hyped.
Motherwell pulled them hither, thither and yon at Fir Park and easily deserved a point.
They scored three times and like Celtic yesterday could have had more.
Even when the Ibrox club had eleven men on the park in midweek, I thought the Russians ran them ragged. The much vaunted “building from the back” that Gerrard is alleged to have done has been so messy he signed another defender before the window shut and is bringing in another one, a 38-year-old, today.
Tom English, this morning, refuted the idea that Sevco has not improved by pointing to “their weighty victories over trappy opposition from Croatia, Slovenia and Russia” … for the record, over the course of those games they won four and drew four, to go with their one win out of four matches in the league.
The media can dress it up as they like; the stats are stinking.
The tradition of airbrushing unpleasant facts out of the narrative is being ramped up to full already.
In the meantime, Celtic’s coaching team get on with the business of making the best of what they’ve got; a weaker team after the window shut. Others may want to kid themselves about that, but this site will continue to hammer that point across.
Brendan had a tough few weeks, but he has seized control back and the team played with such confidence yesterday that only a mug – Kris Boyd, come on down – could suggest that there has been an effect on them. The boss has to do less with more for a while, but he’s undisputedly in charge where it matters, in the dressing room.
We’ve spent weeks hearing now about how we’re facing a challenge, and how we’re going to crumble under pressure. For a moment or two during the window there was a real chance that internal tensions might create a serious problem … but first the Boyata issue and then the Dembele situation allowed the manager to grab things by the throat.
The next step towards his reasserting authority is the coming meeting with the board to discuss the transfer window and how unsatisfactory it was. I expect him to emerge strengthened from that, because really what other outcome could there be? Desmond wants to keep the club rolling along smoothly and if that means some people are given a good slap then so be it.
The man in the dugout continues to produce the goods.
The team on the park continues to turn up for business and get it done. Whilst others squeal like pigs about referees robbing them and others continue to ignore actual evidence and “go with their gut” and write nonsense about the gap having been closed, Brendan’s Bhoys motor on.
Even on paper, where it cannot be readily ignored, the “gap” is four points, and the season has just started.