One of the horrible aspects of going into an international break having turned a three-point league lead into a two-point deficit is that for the next fortnight the Sevconuts will be the lords of all creation in a way that even their summer of hype didn’t come close to.
We deserve this, of course, having shot ourselves in the foot.
But the reaction across the city is going to be so spectacularly OTT that you’ll wish for ear-plugs long before Scotland kicks off on Thursday.
The egos will explode.
The arrogance will pour out of Ibrox like a lava flow.
There will be no escaping from it, particularly as the media will run every word of it.
Their own reaction is not hard to predict either. If Celtic players need any motivation to go away and give themselves a shake prior to hostilities resuming again, do not worry because the press is about to give it to them in spades.
There are times when the hacks are the Ibrox club’s worst enemies. They overlook every flaw and magnify every positive to something way bigger than it ought to be. The next fortnight will be a textbook lesson in overhyping a club.
I knew they’d walk that today.
Because we handed them an opportunity to go top against a poor team at home.
They were never going to pass that up.
But I have not, for one second, changed my mind on the fundamental truth that they are not a good side and that over the course of the league campaign we have nothing whatsoever to fear from them.
As long as we do our own job, there is nothing to be concerned about.
It means that awful displays like today can’t happen too often … but then I don’t expect them to. Lennon’s win record is too good. We just need to put together a good run of wins, eight, nine, ten victories in a row … if we do that we’ll put the pressure on the Ibrox mob and they will fold.
Those who are honestly concerned about the Ibrox club and “can’t see where they will drop points” only need to consider that we didn’t look like dropping them either … until we did.
I’m sticking to my guns on this one; they will fail to win at least ten league games.
Provided we put together that unbeaten run, we’ll win the title by double digits.
For those who reckon that’s overconfidence, you haven’t been paying attention.
The last thing I am is complacent. I’m also realistic about the difficulties inherent in a long league campaign.
Last week, I wrote the following, in response to those who suggested that we might go through the whole of this domestic campaign unbeaten:
“Talk of us winning another Treble unbeaten is for the birds, that’s definitely not going to happen, although the Treble itself still looks a good bet from where I’m sitting. But we’ll drop more points. We will lose games.”
This is why I’m not terribly worried over today. Troubled, yes, because we have to be better, a lot better, than that … but not worried.
The media will ignore all common sense, and they will spend the next week talking about how this has turned the tide, and how it is a “pivotal moment” in the league race … all bollocks. This is 6 October. To talk such obvious crap would be stupider than when Keevins declared the 2011-12 league race over in November.
Yet I still expect some in the press to do exactly that.
There will be talk about how they have “hit form.”
If you exclude the fact that they lost on Thursday night in Switzerland.
The talk will be of how they have recovered from the beating we gave them at Ibrox.
We didn’t win any credit for that result anyway, and they struggled against the team that beat us today in the cup and could have gone out.
I have always believed that if a team needs to “pin headlines to the dressing room wall” to motivate itself then that team is in a lot of trouble.
I know that this Celtic team has never required those kind of stories to inject us with the enthusiasm needed to get results … but I suggest that every player pays attention to the press in the next two weeks and finds something extra as a result of the torrent of garbage they are about to be subjected to.
Because amidst the certain, and inevitable, Sevco love-fest there are going to be questions about our commitment. Our bottle. Our quality. We’ll read nonsense about how this team is on the slide. We read the same after Cluj and before Ibrox.
It was the narrative all the way through our last campaign, after ever stutter along the way.
We finished the season with the Treble.
I am not going to enjoy the next fortnight. Hell, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it even if we’d gone into it still top. But I sense that it is going to be nearly unbearable. And we deserve it to be. We deserve a little bit stick for these last two league displays.
But the reaction to those results today, and to the last two weeks, will be colossally overblown both at Ibrox and in the commentariat.
We’re about to be reminded – as if we needed it – that we operate in an environment where we’re not especially welcome.
We’re about to be reminded – as if we didn’t know – that we have an almost entirely hostile press arrayed against us.
We shouldn’t need the extra fuel to power us to the ninth title on the bounce, but we should use it anyway.
We should suck up every bit of it and turn the engines up to full.
It should make us ever more determined to succeed, knowing that the same hacks who write us off will have to cover the title party through gritted teeth, and that our triumph will tear Ibrox apart.
We should use it to power an unbeaten run all the way to the winter shutdown, so we’re back on top by New Year and heading into 2020 in the kind of form that wins titles.
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