Many of us woke up this morning to find ourselves in a truly wretched state of mind. For those of us who follow politics, and who still want to see us remain in the EU, this is an awful, yet familiar, feeling but I’m betting that the intensity of it is greater than normal.
Let me tell you what it feels like for those who won’t be familiar with it.
It’s like a sick dread, a floating feeling of helplessness, at the core of which is a frustrated anger, like an ache that won’t go away.
That feeling can make you think dark thoughts, the kind of thoughts you have to fight hard against, thoughts of what it would be like to watch the whole world burn.
if you don’t care about politics stuff you will never understand the awful, sickening, sense that it would be satisfying somehow to watch a no deal Brexit unfold in all its ghastly horror. To see its full effects unleashed on everyone who clamoured for it, with only the dimmest understanding of what it will mean and how it will impact their lives.
We are in this place where we can see disaster looming and because we played no part in that – and in fact opposed taking the road that got us here – there is a very strong urge to embrace that horror as a lesson to those who urged it on us.
Man, you have no idea what that’s like and how it makes you feel about yourself. It’s like waking up from a dream in which you had killed a bunch of people. It makes you want to shower, to wash it off yourself. Because of course we wouldn’t be so damned vocal in our opposition to it if that’s how we really felt. We don’t want to see those effects. We don’t care that some of those who voted for it are backwards bigots who deserve everything they get.
That angry, frustrated, free floating fury is how many of us feel today about the Celtic board of directors. We ponder darkly how satisfying it would feel to see yesterday’s ghastly decision explode in their faces, to see it scorch their reputations and leave them with no option but to run for the hills. Part of me does crave that, to see them receive the searing, scorching education they deserve, about what Celtic fans can do when roused.
But of course, I want other things more than that. I want the club to be successful, to continue winning titles and trophies, to secure nine and then ten in a row. That they will bask in the glory of that appals me but I know I will bask in it more.
To them it will mean a place in the sun that this low-ball managerial decision in no way merits and which will not be justified even if it succeeds.
But those same things will mean everything to me and to you, and I want them for all of us more than I want to watch Peter Lawwell packing his desk in disgrace. The disgrace is real whether he pays for it or not. It is real even if he never acknowledges it.
I, and many of you, will struggle with this one, but this board relies on the simple truth that ultimately we will have to find a way of supporting a manager who’s appointment we do not believe in, and muster up a faith that we do not possess, for as long as that is tenable.
All involved have to know that the manager’s honeymoon has already come and gone and this fraudulent “audition” was it.
Either he ups his game dramatically or the heat will get heavy very, very quickly in the new campaign.
The board, on the other hand, gets no further “benefit of the doubt.” They have failed in their most basic function, which is to put us in the best position we can be. They better be under no illusions about the way many thousands of fans feel.
The Celtic fans at Hampden sung Lennon’s name yesterday, but that was an expression of gratitude on an emotional day; only a fool would have mistaken that for unqualified support for his appointment, because that does not exist and the doubts are many and impossible to ignore.
Yet it does appear that we have such fools in charge at Celtic Park.
The board probably believes that this is a commercially smart decision, but the money was flowing and the stadium full because the fans believed the club was moving in a positive direction; for a large segment of our support that feeling is gone for good whilst the current “custodians” are in charge. A board with real vision would never have made this call.
This decision is a decisive step backwards and represents a significant downgrading in our ambition and the way we present to the world, and that changes some fans relationship with the board in a decisive way. I’ve spoken to guys overnight who say they’ve given Celtic their last penny of the calendar year. It’s the tip of the iceberg.
I believe the decision is an embrace of mediocrity. It is also cowardly.
They have gone for an option they believe is safe; in fact, it’s a monumental risk to appoint Lennon, a manager who bailed on the job because it bored him once before and who has not succeeded at his last two clubs by any existing definition.
Lennon has spent the last three months hiding behind the previous manager’s tactics, shouting at the players and turning on the fans when he felt that the heat was on, and those things worried me at the time and they worry me more now, because in fact, he never was under real scrutiny and knew it the whole time, because he had been promised the job regardless of results – an admission he and Lawwell made that should shame them both and scare us all to death.
When the pressure is really on next season, how will the charlatan who masquerades as a CEO, touring Europe to impart his wisdom whilst he shrinks our club to secure his bonus, deal with it? Well, if it all comes apart you better believe that he will throw to the wolves the very man whose virtues he yesterday extolled, and he’ll do it without thinking twice.
Because it is clear today that nothing is more important to Peter than Peter is.
I have long resisted that view, but how can you be in the slightest doubt after this? The £9 million we got for Rodgers is banked along with the £30 million that we already had in the bank, and he has gone out and hired the ex-manager of Hibs as his replacement.
All the talk of “strengthening” the club is ludicrous in light of the downsizing of the manager.
In strict financial terms, anything he gives Lennon will more than be balanced out by the savings this decision makes; that it hampers us, that it drives a wrecking ball through four years of progress and forward momentum, will not bother Lawwell one bit.
His recompense will be sufficient to heat the driveway for a while longer yet.
In my disgust I find myself caring about that when I never have before.
I suspect I’m not the only one who’s thoughts will turn to whether or not the chief executive is still worth keeping around, at such enormous expense. If we’re not to have nice things, then his salary is an indulgence the club certainly cannot afford. If costs need to be cut, let’s start there.
That this is a gamble with nine and ten in a row is so obvious that it’s a point that doesn’t need labouring. And yes, there’s a screaming, furious, part of me that would relish the risk blowing up in their faces and the uproar it would generate from the support.
But I do not want that, not for me and not for the rest of you, and because I don’t I’ll find a way, in the course of the close season, to make my peace with the notion of Lennon in the dugout unless or until events make that impossible to sustain.
If he blows it, I will blame the manager for all the failings I already know he has. I will lament his egotism and arrogance in taking on a job that he ought to know is too big for him. I will feel some pity for him if this man who a section of our support venerates becomes our version of Ally McCoist, but the risk of that is so obvious that he has to have considered it already. His previous successes will not save him from that fate if he cannot finish this job, the most important of them all.
So, yes I will hold him responsible for his failures if it comes to that.
But I will blame the board more for ignoring the risks and going for the easy option and the degradation of our ambitions that this decision signifies.
I will never make my peace with them for that and I will never again trust a single word they say.
This decision raises doubts about their stewardship of Celtic which cannot easily be set aside.
Because of those doubts, we will be forced to look again at their past performances in other areas, including their part in the Five Way Agreement and their complicity in allowing the incompetent Neil Doncaster to continue to rise through the ranks of the professional game here when he should have been put on a bus back to Devon seven years ago.
There are stories I never wanted to write, issues I never wanted to look at, decisions I put off examining too closely.
I did that because I believed that these people had done their best … I cannot sustain that belief any longer.
Today I don’t believe any one of them belongs in an executive role at Celtic Park because as far as I’m concerned they have helped close the football gap with Ibrox like nothing King and his rag-bag board could ever have hoped to accomplish on their own.
It is a grotesque act of self-harm without precedent in the history of the club.
From the lofty perch of the Invincible campaign, where it was all in front of us and ten in a row seemed a certainty, to the utter scandal of the playing squad finding out we’d appointed the ex-Hibs boss on Twitter … it is a gruesome summation of a collapse in standards so swift that it is breathtaking.
The stick we gave Rodgers for leaving when he did … why would any top manager stay at a club whose level of ambition can be summed up by a decision to replace him with such a low-rate and unimaginative option? He thought Leicester City was a better bet; who are we to argue with that after what we saw from our club yesterday?
And so today some of us find ourselves in a truly wretched position, where we know the board deserves nothing but scorn and derision and the fury of a unified Celtic support that sees clearly what they’ve done and knows what it has to do. Yet we understand that this will only happen at the end of a dark road that none of us wants to go down.
I am disgusted with them for putting us here, for making us feel this way, for stripping the pleasure out of what should have been a truly amazing day.
I will never forgive them for taking that away from us yesterday – never, ever, ever – but like the rest of you I have to hope that this colossal, outrageous, un-necessary, irresponsible risk of theirs pays off, and delivers the two titles that will complete the circle, that will make it ten, that will close the door on the darkness of the nineties forever, and wipe the detritus of the Murray years out of our memories like disinfectant on a kitchen floor.
I am scunnered beyond belief with them today, angrier than I’ve been at the people who run my club for as long as I can remember, demoralised completely by their stupidity and chronic lack of vision, and worst of all by my hope that they get away with it.