Well, you have to hand it to the denizens of Ibrox for an unerring ability to miss the point, even when it’s the size of a wall you’re hitting with a sledgehammer.
They have seen some evidence of what they think is division in the ranks of the Celtic support; what absolute head-banging fruitcakes these people are.
Differences of opinion are not division, and only those who want to use disruptive terminology, who crow from their high horse seeking to carve the support into wee groups of “real fans” and “enemies of the club” and other such nonsense, can make it so.
And you know what?
Neil Lennon was not everybody’s first choice. He wasn’t even some people’s second choice or third choice or fourth choice.
But he is here.
He is the manager.
And in my life I have never known a newly appointed Celtic manager not to get the full-throated support of the fans.
Doubts will be parked. Other options will be forgotten. The man in the dugout will get full backing.
The board will get the scrutiny they deserve; that’s a foregone conclusion … but Celtic fans always support the manager.
Told you it wasn’t personal, didn’t I?
And whilst the board’s decision might have set back our ten in a row prospects because Lennon wasn’t the A-list boss who would have made it a foregone conclusion in the eyes of everyone but Chris Jack and Neil Cameron, that’s a relative judgement.
Think of it like this.
Imagine you’re a general with 50 armoured divisions in preparation for an attack on the enemy. Now imagine that the commander in chief “borrows” ten of those divisions for another attack along a separate front. He has made your job harder than it has to be.
He has put your strategy and your success at risk. He has jeopardised your chances. But if you’re only facing 10 enemy divisions, it’s not a big risk. The smart money would still be on you to succeed, and that’s exactly the situation we have right here.
In my view, the board has failed to put us in the best possible position.
They have taken an un-necessary risk with the manager.
But Neil Lennon, on his worst day, is still a better manager than Steven Gerrard is on his best day.
And our squad, on its worst day, is still a stronger squad than Gerrard has at his disposal or is likely to have.
And even our board, on its worst day, and making the worst possible decision (which this wasn’t; I think most of us agree that would have been Moyes) is still a vastly more competent board with more resources at its disposal than the one across the city.
This is all self-evident stuff.
We are Celtic.
We are sitting at the top of the Scottish game, not just at the top of the league and with all the trophies; we’re sitting atop the pile, during a period of domestic dominance like the game here has never seen.
There is a word I write over and over and over again; fundamentals.
I used it first it in the aftermath of the Scottish Cup semi-final of 2016, which, arguably, was the last meaningful game we lost in Scottish football … think on that for one second and tell me I’m wrong.
The last meaningful game we lost in Scottish football was over three years ago.
That record stands because we have the fundamentals right.
Our operations are self-sustaining and the money is rolling in.
Our wage bill is three times higher than they can afford … and ours is perfectly in line with our earnings.
Our squad is young and tied down on long term deals.
Our board is comprised of professional people who know how to run a business and turn a profit.
And although I do not believe that the last manager of the club was properly resourced, and I have concerns about whether Neil Lennon will be, that is about failures of strategy more than the absence of resources. Whilst some of those choices have at times made us look weak, we’re actually not.
The fundamentals are sound; the money is there if required.
And that’s the key phrase this time; if required.
Our board seems to be content just to get by, and the thing of it is, I think we’re perfectly capable of getting by.
I don’t believe that anything is likely to happen at Ibrox that changes the equation we’re looking at right now, which is that we are stronger in every department and especially in terms of the money, where we are so far ahead as to be almost out of sight.
But of course, it’s about how the money is spent and what it is spent on.
And I believe that if we looked as if were going to be in trouble and we were facing the possibility of losing our title and nine and ten in a row that the fans would demand action … and if that time ever comes we at least can all take solace from the knowledge that the money is there to take that action.
Action like that will be expensive.
It will probably end up being more expensive than spending it when we should have would have been, but with our backs to the wall and in the moment of greatest need, I know that the resources would be there to blow any challenge away.
Some people have suggested that Neil Lennon is going to get the money he needs, during this summer, to do the rebuild he wants (I’ll be writing about that later) and if they are right then we’re in for one Hell of a time, and we could follow it up with a blow-out league campaign where we can put our rivals away early and turn the entire thing into a season-long party towards the nine.
See, I firmly believe that Gerrard is a limp rag of a manager and their whole club exists right now on suspension of disbelief.
Everything there is illusory, whereas Celtic’s strengths are real.
I don’t think it will take much to bring it all crashing down at Ibrox.
Had we brought in the A-list manager some us wanted, that process would already have started.
There’s a whole summer to come. If we strengthen they will start to panic before a ball is even kicked. If we hit the ground running early next season, I think it’ll be a runaway train over there. It’ll go out of control and come off the rails fast.
See, the 3Treble years have battle hardened this team to the point they’re like a Vietnam War platoon which has done three tours of duty.
Pressure doesn’t touch them.
On top of that, these guys have a will to win and a taste for victory like no club I’ve ever watched.
At Ibrox they’ve won nothing for seven years.
The pressure of being perennial losers must be enormous.
They don’t know what winning feels like; where are the leaders, where are the winners, in that dressing room of theirs?
If they are under pressure – and there will be more pressure on them than they’ve ever known (until next year anyway) – they will crack like an egg hit with a mallet.
These Peepul are bonkers to believe that this represents a chance for them.
It offers them a glimmer of hope, the one that would have been snuffed out completely had we appointed a Cocu or a Blanc or someone of that calibre, but it’s no more than that and that will flicker and die like a candle in the wind the second actual football is being played again.
And here’s a last confession; although I know that it’s nine and ten in a row they fear, the thing itself and not so much any one individual connected with it, I will admit to feeling a certain thrill at the idea of Neil Lennon being the guy who gets us over the line.
Their hate for him is so visceral and so all-consuming that there will be something satisfyingly complete should he triumph – as he will – that I cannot deny, because, yes, it will add an extra layer of torment to the pain they will already be experiencing.
And I want them to hurt, I really do.
It may make me a bad person, but I’ll take that criticism on the chin.
Because we hurt over the long years of Rangers’ dominance – although it was never dominance on the scale of this.
I actually think we’ve been pretty magnanimous, and restrained, compared to the pomp and arrogance I remember when an Ibrox boot was on our throat.
I think of that often on days like today.
And oh, how it makes me laugh.