You ever have a falling out with your mates that went much, much further than it should have?
You know that weird awkwardness when you all first get together again? There’s a tension, whether it’s acknowledged or not. Then something will happen that makes everyone laugh, and all the darkness drains out of the room. You all become friends again.
The second – and hopefully last – Celtic summit meeting was held earlier this week, and the manager and the board finally hashed out the summer. I won’t say the garden is completely rosy, and that everybody’s feeling tip-top – there are still a lot of bruised egos – but at least now everyone’s sitting around the barbecue pit having a beer. The weird tension will abate soon enough if it hasn’t already. Peace has broken out.
Suddenly the manager is talking about how committed he is to the club, reminding people of the three years left on his deal. The players looked more in the mood on the pitch. Whatever’s been said, it has cut through the nonsense and got people back on the same page.
There was, of course, a meeting just after the window closed.
I am guessing that one didn’t go nearly so well.
I imagine Brendan was still feeling pretty raw and maybe those around him were too.
But there’s been a marked change in the mood this week, and we saw it in the press conference before the game, where the manager had his best spell in front of the hacks in a while. He slapped back at the critics. He sorted out the misrepresentations of his comments.
He was back to his commanding best.
And last night, in the second half, the team were back on theirs.
So what would have come out of the latest club sit-down?
Well Dermot Desmond was in attendance, and if he didn’t bang the heads of his two top lieutenants together I’ll be amazed.
What we saw over the summer was rank stupidity and ego run amuck, and it risked our coveted position. The club’s biggest shareholder was never going to allow that. He might not have the chairman’s seat but everyone knows where the power flows from; what he says goes.
The first thing he’ll have pointed out is that blame does nobody any good at this point.
It only gets in the way of fixing stuff.
Apologies will have been made.
Clarity will have been brought to matters where events were clouded.
Most of all, Brendan will feel secure and that’s the important part because it means that the relative powers of the office he holds have been upheld, and probably at the expense of the CEO. The difference in his body language was stark last night; he’s back in command.
Anyone who harboured fantasies about Lawwell being sacked were always going to be disappointed. Just so long as he knows he has to deliver for the man in the dugout – without second guessing him – all will be well in the world.
Let Lawwell get on with fighting the myriad wars he’s involved with on behalf of the club; he doesn’t need to be de facto Director of Football as well.
Most importantly, here’s one message I do know was delivered; everyone wants success for Celtic above all else.
I know how a lot of people inside Celtic feel about much of the rest of Scottish football, and the media which covers it. I know exactly how Desmond feels about the club across the city, and believe me when I tell you that feeling is shared by Peter Lawwell as well. I know people will highlight an age-old Desmond quote as “proof” that I’m wrong, but my answer to that would be: Hampden 2016. The Warburton semi-final.
If you know what happened there, you’ll know why the anger still burns.
Above all else, that man will have reminded the two others at the table – as if they needed to be reminded – who the real enemy is, where the real battle is. He will have drummed it into their heads and neither man will lose sight of that again.
The media has loved the last few weeks.
Of course they have.
Our enemies have had a rare old time of it, laughing it up and painting us as a club in crisis.
But they said all this in the aftermath of that Hampden semi-final too, and I wrote at the time, that they were mistaken a weakness of strategy for a structural one; Celtic is far and away the most powerful club in Scotland. If we’re going through a bad spell it’s because people took their eyes off the ball.
This week, people refocussed.
There will be bumps in the road; I have no doubt about that.
But the gloom has lifted.
The tension that remains will break with improved performance and better results, and soon enough this team will have its swagger back.
Then there’ll be no stopping us.
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