International week. It grates on me now, like Kris Boyd doing commentary.
You know it’s inevitable that you’ll have to go through it, but you hate it.
Have you ever known our domestic game to be broken up with such annoying regularity?
At least the next game is going to have some meaning; if Scotland win they qualify for the finals of a major competition for the first time in eons. That is less exciting, and less promising though, than it sounds because I think certain members of our squad already play too many matches and this is just more, more, more … I don’t want Callum McGregor and others playing Euro Finals after a tough season just to roll straight into the one after it.
Some of these guys are going to be burned out, it’s as simple as that.
Our manager’s insistence on playing them every week virtually guarantees it.
It used to be that you worried only about injuries. Now you worry about virus outbreaks which are exponentially worse. One player can catch this stuff, have no symptoms, slip through the cracks of testing, bring this thing back and inside the sealed “bubble” which the clubs are building around themselves, and that can cause havoc.
That’s a far bigger worry than the idea of a couple of injuries used to be.
Indeed, I can safely say that when this is done the idea of a few knocks and bruises and pulls and sprains will never bother me quite so much again.
I will never love international football; the SFA and their scandalous behaviour has put the tin hat on that, but I positively hate this version of it.
Celtic were incensed by how lax international associations were in their dealing with the virus the last time out. There is no question that it was costly to us. Four of our players ended up as a result of it, going into a massive series of games. Even if you aren’t willing to absolve the manager of responsibility for what happened, you can’t pretend that their absence didn’t have an impact. It is perfectly obvious that it did. We cannot do that again.
Celtic has contemplated several different responses.
The one they don’t want to initiate is anything where we pull our players out of national squads, but there’s a certain inevitability about it if these things keep on happening. The SFA has given us zero real support; that’s where I’d think the main withdrawals would start, and it would be easy to do.
I used to get very angry when the first Ibrox club pulled this kind of thing; it would happen without fail before nearly every international break. Players would come down with a variety of mystery ailments and before you knew it they’d not have a single footballer in the national team.
Now I see the logic behind the selfishness.
Celtic fans, as a whole, feel no loyalty to the SFA or to the national team anymore. I’ll do a piece later on in the week covering that very subject, but it’s undeniably true. Why the club continues to pretend the relationship is not one sided I don’t know.
But even we have a line that can’t be crossed, and the global health crisis has almost certainly pushed us to the edge of it.
If we lose more players to this bug because national associations cannot protect our footballers, I think we’ll see the limits of our tolerance.