I have, on the desk in front of me, the desk where I work, where I write these articles, a pair of Baoding balls with yin-yang patterns on them. They are nice to look at, but even nicer to hold in my hands, especially on the days when my fingers get numb.
I used to have stress-balls instead; they were great when I wanted to hit something.
A punching bag in the corner would have accomplished the same thing, but they took up less space.
Stress-balls are made of rubber; Baoding balls aren’t. They are solid. I am glad for that these past few weeks, as they would certainly have popped otherwise. As make-do stress-balls they have been squeezed harder than a chairman negotiating with Peter Lawwell.
(Hey, a little levity is a good thing, right?)
At the end of a bad day, I like to pick those balls up and roll them in my hands. There are wee bells inside them somewhere, and they make a very pleasing sound. They also relax all the muscles in my wrists, hands and fingers. That, too, has been useful.
I can only imagine how the players at Celtic Park feel this week after the events that have engulfed the club. They must very much want to take their frustrations out on something and fortunately for them and for us we have guests coming tomorrow, all 800 or so of them. They are not the kind of guests one would want to entertain, more the sort you invite round just so you can humiliate them in some minor fashion. That’s the entertainment we have in mind.
But for the downward dip of the last few weeks this game would have loomed larger in my thinking. Those who have occasionally moaned that this site focusses ever much on Ibrox are, I’m willing to bet, some of the same ones moaning that it’s spent the last week or so focussing on the unfolding mess at our own club. Others understand why I do both. All of us will be looking forward to tomorrow, because all that pent up energy has to go somewhere.
I cannot think of a better place to direct it than at these pretenders from across town whose club remains a mess of biblical proportions in spite of qualifying for the Europa League groups. They’ve paid for their season, but when we win the title this season that will simply encourage the next round of madness when they might not be so lucky.
Our club hasn’t “collapsed like a house of cards” and as angry as I am right now with the chaos of the last window, it is not going to. Even without selling Dembele we’d have been in good financial health, especially as we spent no money. But one bad year, one year without European Group Stage football is all it will take at Ibrox to bring down the house. They always push the boat out, but always way too far for their own good.
They have spent money, and that’s a fact. But what have they actually got for their dough? I watched the Russians against them on Thursday night; they tore the Sevco defence to pieces and a better team – and they will face three better teams in the Groups – will destroy them.
They will face a better team tomorrow and that’s what I expect us to do.
For weeks we’ve heard nothing but hype about how great this mob is.
Gerrard has managed 11 games and won just over half of them. The record is not stellar. He’s made them look difficult to beat only because they haven’t been yet. I have yet to see them perform in a manner that gives me any cause for concern. If we show up, it’s ours to lose.
In fact, if this team harnesses the frustration we all feel and turns it into pure energy and pure football we will hit them so hard it will slap the spit out of their mouths. It doesn’t even matter what our starting eleven is – and I bet the manager already knows his team; we’ll run over them like a tank. We’ll have them on the back foot from the kick-off.
Some think Gerrard will attack us. If he tries his team will get stripped down to their socks and we’ll score for fun. Sit back, and they invite us on and our wide men, who play football on the deck, which is the best way to beat this team, will destroy them.
I except nothing but a win, and a resounding one.
To read some of the hysterical reactions to my last piece – a much more measured piece than some of the responses, and not one person offered a coherent counter-argument – you’d think I said the club was in meltdown. Nobody has ever suggested that Celtic is in crisis, nobody but our enemies in the media and the delusional fans of a club that goes through more mood swings than a Spice Girl reunion.
Tomorrow we’re going to put them on silent. Tomorrow we’re going to remind them why we’re champions. I may have issues, big issues, with the way the board runs the football club but I have none with the way the manager runs the team. His own performance has been stellar. His own achievements are there for all to see. I have no fears about the players who will be out on that park either; all of them are better than their counterparts at Ibrox.
Frankly, none of their starting eleven would get into our team.
Tomorrow, all the anger, all the frustration and all the stress of the last three weeks is going to hit that Sevco team like a tsunami. You don’t need to build a siege mentality when you are actually under siege. And when our blood is up, that’s when we’re at our deadliest.
Their team is what we have instead of a punching bag.
Hit them hard Celtic.