“Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
It’s one of the most famous lines in the history of science. Forget the movies, those were the words Jim Lovell repeated back to Ground Control after Jack Swigert had said them into the microphone a moment before. It was 13 April, 1970.
I’ve seen the famous movie, and I’ve read Lovell’s book on the near disaster; Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13. What comes across most clearly in the book (and in the movie, to be fair, it’s actually a very good film) is how calm everyone on the flight, and down on the ground, were. There were moments of despair and doubt, but there was never, not once, any moment when people freaked out and panicked.
If they had, none of the three astronauts would have got home alive.
They took a cool, almost detached, view of their situation up there. The men on the ground did too. Once they got over the initial shock of what was happening, they put on their game faces and treated it as something that had to be fixed, something their professional training would allow them to approach like anything else they might have been faced with. They focussed on solutions. They didn’t dwell on possible consequences.
The objective was avoiding those.
Today Brendan Rodgers put aside the last few weeks.
He admitted that we have a problem, or that we’d had one.
He refused to panic.
He said fans would be right to be concerned with the start we’ve made – clarifying, perfectly, the remarks the media has been misrepresenting since the game ended – but he looked ahead to focusing on the answers.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. You run into trouble and you’re not supposed to flip out and run around screaming at the walls. That’s exactly what the press wants us all to do here. They know, as we do, that this is the team we’re stuck with until January. They also know that this is their chance because if we’re not top or there are other clubs in touching distance of us when that window opens that we can afford to spend big to pull clear.
The reasons I put such a premium on facing up to things as they are – instead of doing what some in our support would have us do, which is ignore problems – is that you need to do that before you can focus on finding solutions, and that’s why it was so pleasing to hear Brendan today.
Everyone at Celtic Park needs to just shut out the white noise and focus. They need to dig deep and find what’s gone wrong and fix it. Brendan admitted that he and the squad are on a quest to do just that, and it was also heartening – on the day when he was accused of hiding from responsibility – that he stepped up and said “blame me” when it comes to the last few results; that’s not an admission of failure, it’s what a leader does.
Brendan is clearly angry at some of the halfwittery out there in the media, and he had a special, and welcome, slap-down for Boyd who’s been running his gob all over the place. “He should focus on trying to get into the Kilmarnock team,” Brendan said, leaving unspoken the idea that if he gives up the day-job there’s not much he’s going to be good at because only in Scotland could someone with his low-grade IQ end up with a newspaper column.
Boyd is symptomatic of a wider malaise in our media, of course, which is beautifully illustrated by that nonsense I wrote about this morning, that article from Cooney at The Daily Record which was half a shot at mind reading and half gloating over our predicament. As I said, they must think we have as short a memory span as they do.
They’ve also forgotten that when one guy is on the canvas and the other is dancing around the ring – the end of the fight, in other words – that’s when you know who has won. The time for victory laps is after an actual victory and Brendan’s record is six trophies for six.
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