And so the month begins, the one that will in many ways map out the season for us.
Win tomorrow and the first trophy of the season is secured. Win a week on Thursday and we’ve got European football after Christmas. Win the league games and you can probably take the title to the bank. We’re in a strong, strong position. Confidence is high.
To me, tomorrow is a day of the highest possible significance.
I said at the start of the campaign that of the three trophies the League Cup was the most important because it is the first one, the early chance to define yourself and the season ahead. I said that if we won it then we would almost certainly win the Treble Treble and write more history.
I believe it implicitly.
Tomorrow is the most important match of the month. Europe is a side-show and league points can be made up and when the chips are down we’ve got the best squad in the country and the only one capable of doing it over the course of a long campaign.
Win tomorrow and the rest takes care of itself.
There is a misapprehension sweeping through Sevconia that the most important match tomorrow is the one at Tynecastle. Some of their fans believe that a win, which would put them top of the league, would confer some huge psychological advantage to them.
It’s bullshit, I’m afraid, and they would be stupid to think otherwise.
Win tomorrow and we secure silverware. We actually get our hands on a trophy, something tangible, something real. Not a fantasy. Not some sort of temporary ego boost. It will be something solid, another page in the history. Rodgers will keep up his unbroken run of trophies.
Anyone who thinks that any Celtic supporter will be focussed, at all, on what happens at Tynecastle is nuts.
There is one game tomorrow, the one we’re in.
Indeed, what their fans appear not have considered is that it’s their own team under pressure and not ours. If they fail to win and the day ends with us top of the table, with a game in hand, and we’ve gotten our hands on the season’s first trophy what does that do to the psychology of all concerned? That none of them even wants to discuss that tells you how scary the prospect of it is to them, and it’s a very real prospect.
No wonder they want to ignore it.
I have no fears about tomorrow. Our players have been over the course before. They know what’s at stake, and not only do they have the skill-set to cope with it, but they have the mentality to do it too. Their minds will be only on the job at hand … winning against Aberdeen. If they think on Tynecastle at all I suspect it will be to snigger over the bursting of another Gerrard bubble. No club is quite so good at setting itself up for a fall as Sevco.
And no club is quite so good at winning under pressure as Celtic, and there will be pressure tomorrow of course.
For winners, there always is.
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