Celtic fans have shown incredible loyalty this season, in spite of snarks and barbs and digs from all around us. Celtic supporters have shown the most awesome devotion to the club by spending fortunes when it wasn’t particularly clear what they were getting for their money.
I always say “faithful through and through” is not a suicide pact; it refers to the institution and not any individual connected to it.
But any institution is a collection of individuals.
Today it is time for those individuals – players, coaching staff and even directors – to deliver for us. Nothing less than bringing home the Scottish Cup, to sealing that Quadruple Treble, will do for the players and the management team.
From the directors all the fans really want is a period of silence. No grandstanding, no gloating, no sudden announcement which pulls the rug from under our feet. Today does not belong to the timid men in the boardroom.
Nobody is getting a pardon on the back of today. Things still have to change at Celtic Park, and in a big way. We are playing Hearts here, a division below us; there is an expectation that our squad will be good enough to dispatch them.
Nobody should believe that a victory will answer every question or solve every problem or fix all the other stuff that has gone wrong.
To be honest, the victory today is the bare minimum we should expect.
We have the superior squad. We have the better players. We should be going out here today with total confidence, and wiping the floor with Robbie Neilson’s pretenders. You know what? I think we will too. I think today will be one of the most commanding performances of the season.
Certain players need to raise their game though, such as Edouard, McGregor and whoever else the manager chooses for the midfield. If he goes with the old guard, they are going to have to put on a performance like they haven’t managed so far in this campaign.
They have to find a different level than we’ve seen this season so far.
I laid out yesterday the main things the manager will have to, and the crucial decisions he has to get right.
If he gets three out of five correct I think we’ll win. If he gets four out of five right, we’ll win comfortably.
For the directors, I would rather they just stayed out of the way.
I have no wish to hear or see a self-congratulatory Peter Lawwell at full time; as far as I’m concerned, his decision not to fire Lennon gambled with this final as his decision to hire Lennon in the first place gambled with ten in a row. He can save the platitudes for people who haven’t heard them all before.
He and Bankier and whichever member of the Desmond family is prepared to show up, if any, can stay in the director’s box or the Executive lounge and preen and strut in the company of Ann Budge. Perhaps they will impress her. Perhaps they can impress each other.
In the end, today belongs to the fans and supporter; we built Celtic, we are Celtic, the achievement we’re going for today would be impossible without us. I’ve called it the bookend to a great era; well it didn’t have to be and it still doesn’t have to be. In order for it to be more, all those inside the club need to perform far better than they have recently.
They can start with today, by writing this latest page of their history.