So what did we learn from the weekend?
Nothing we didn’t already know.
Nothing that wasn’t readily apparent for all those who wanted to look.
Celtic is still the best team in the country.
Celtic were always going to be favourites to win the SPL, regardless of the result at Parkhead in December.
Did we make it harder than it had to be? Yes, we did, but the euphoria in La La Land was never going to last. The fundamentals had not altered, and in the real world we have the best players, the better manager and the money in the bank to get this over the line.
We’re in the final days of the transfer window now, and although the media is doing its level best to stir the soup and link our players with moves there will be no significant departure from Celtic Park before it shuts. The key will be who we bring in.
I expect business to be done, and that by the time the weekend’s games come around that we’ll have a fair idea how seriously our club takes the challenge from Ibrox and how dedicated they are to holding onto the flag. The pressure on the board has actually risen as a result of yesterday’s result, because a good signing or two will now have implications on and off the pitch.
We have our foot on the Ibrox throat.
This is the time to press home every advantage.
It’s not for nothing that I talk about psychology on this blog a lot.
The psychology of winning and losing is an interesting subject, and it will have a huge impact on where this season ends up. A lot of folk in Sevconia are wondering if their club has the mentality to become champions; it seems clear that the answer to that is no. They don’t have the quality either.
Imagine we now add quality, with our team back in the driving seat and their club unable to do the same? What kind of message will that send? What will that do to the psychological weight over there? It will increase it until they collapse underneath it.
The impact will be felt right across their club, from the dressing room to the stands. Gerrard’s talk of being satisfied with the squad sounded much better when they had just won at Celtic Park, were right behind us with a game in hand and the media was rhapsodising on how brilliant they were. Today, having just lost to the bottom club in the league it looks a little different.
It wasn’t even the defeat but the manner of it; they were absolutely outplayed and outfought at every turn. Defoe, who the press has been eulogising for days, looked like a player touching 40. Kamara was every inch the £50,000 player … a sorry place for a someone being “scouted by Juventus” earlier in the window and who they thought they might get £8 million for. That so many of them believe this rabid nonsense is just one of the problems over there.
Gerrard’s response to it deserves an article all on its own, and I’ll do that in due course.
But imagine this was us. Imagine we had won at Ibrox, to give ourselves a chance of going in front in a tough title race and that our board then decided renewing the contract of a 39-year-old was going to be the big headline of the transfer window, and we had to watch as our rivals spent upwards of £6 million on their team at the same time.
Imagine we then lost our advantage with only days to go.
The media pressure would be enormous for starters. Can you imagine them letting us away with it?
Yet for weeks Sevco has had a free ride in this area.
Today, Andy Walker has become the first of the hacks to express his surprise at Sevco’s lack of incoming transfer activity … he might be one of the dumbest men in the business but even he sees the writing on the wall here.
I actually find it pathetic than any of them are going to bother now.
Gerrard said he wouldn’t be signing players in this window before the Celtic Park game … the time to express disbelief at that was back then, but it would have meant taking a look at their club and the perilous financial state it was in, and nobody in the press wanted to.
Let me tell you what I think; I think they’ll put some rabbit out of the hat late in the day. I genuinely can’t see how they can afford not to. They will bring in some old head from England or elsewhere and dress it up as a game changer … except that the game’s changed already.
Celtic is back in the driving seat, and if we spend the next few days strengthening this team further the impact of that will be felt from the top of Ibrox to the bottom. Whatever panic buy they come up to appease their fans and keep Gerrard sweet a little longer will not matter.
The damage was done at Tynecastle yesterday, when the bubble burst.
But oh, how we can ramp the pressure up on them by making the rest of this week as good as it has started out. Get some signings done, win on Wednesday and set us up for the weekend in pole position with them gasping in our wake … before long the finish line will be in sight.