So the game on 17 October is on after all. But of course it is. The reports from earlier today, panicked, paranoid, ridiculous, that thought Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government might call it off were completely barmy. There was no chance of that at all.
I doubt conversations about it even got past the point of the roundtable chat, with some functionary asking if it was something that might be considered.
The answer would have been a swift “no” and the discussions would have moved on to something more sensible.
Yes, it happened once before … but in those circumstances we were looking at packing 50,000 people into a football stadium, so of course the blockers were put on that. How many cases, how many more dead, would we have had that decision not been taken?
This is different, and although we’d all have liked to see fans in the ground I never thought it was likely and with the numbers of UK cases back to where they were in May it’s not manifestly impossible. So we’re going into it without the mighty home support.
Not that it matters; they came to Celtic Park and won last season, after we had done the same at Ibrox.
We were woeful that day, woeful, and have been waiting to avenge the result ever since.
Had we gone to Ibrox, as we were scheduled to do, I think we’d have done them.
They will not be looking forward to coming to play us, whether there are fans in the ground or not. They struggled at the weekend when Hibs became the first team to get in their faces and try to match them on the counter. Their confidence has been badly dented.
By the time that game comes around, their squad might be weakened by sales. We’ll find out in due course, but at the moment there is wild lunatic talk in the papers about them trying to sign somebody else. What madness that would be …
Now that we know this game is taking place, we should put it out of our minds until closer to the time.
This has been one of Celtic’s strengths all the way through this long run towards the ten.
We are able to narrow our focus only to the game in front of us.
This is why pressure slides off us. It’s why there is such consistency.
Aside from European games, we have Hibs and St Johnstone to come before Gerrard’s rag-bag mob rolls into town. We have enough to keep us occupied before that one. Let Sevco worry about dropping something. Let them focus entirely on it.
Let them see losing at Parkhead as the End of the World when they should be making sure it doesn’t end before that.
We know it’s taking place. That’s really all we do have to know. We know now it will take place in front of empty stands. So be it. It will be the strangest of all the games we’ve played against either of the Ibrox clubs, but that shouldn’t be a concern for us.
This one will be won by who wants it most.
By which teams copes best with the pressure. We know their club is incapable of dealing with pressure … so I reckon it’ll be a good day.
But it’s way in front of us right now.
One game at a time, folks.
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