What a week this has been so far. Wow.
Two things have characterised it; the reaction of the fans to what we saw last weekend and the reaction of the club. They could not be more divergent.
The supporters have reacted passionately, angrily, wanting the club to return to its standards. The board has slammed the fans and called us spoiled children.
Then they backtracked and asked for unity.
Lennon has dismissed our concerns and thanked the board for not sacking him “for the sake of it” as If the results and performances were just frivolous nonsense. We then had the “Scott Brown Hostage Video”, one of the most derided CelticTV productions ever.
Finally, we found out that the team at 90 Minute Cynic, who were the only fan site allowed at Celtic events and press conferences, have had their access revoked … it’s like a slap in the face in a week full of them. The only thing these guys did wrong was to question Neil Lennon about his tactics and decisions as any good fan outlet should.
I know in whose interests the fans were gathering outside Parkhead at the weekend.
I know what their purpose was, and what the overarching goal was.
I know for damned sure the success and good health of the club was uppermost in their minds.
I know why the Cynic guys asked their questions.
I do wonder whose interests were being served by the directors who told the press they were standing by Lennon so as not to “give in to the mob”? Not Celtic’s. It generated a full day of shocking headlines which made us sound like a club on the brink of anarchy, and made the board sound like narcissistic lunatics running things on the basis of their own egos.
I do wonder whose interests were being served in sending a clearly uncomfortable Scott Brown out to answer pre-set questions, and one wonders if there were pre-scripted answers as well, in an effort to promote the appearance of unity behind the scenes?
Not Scott’s and not Celtic’s, because it has become the butt of jokes and internet memes and will probably, in the fullness of time, be dubbed over and over again like the video of Comical Ali telling the world that the Americans had been pushed back when the tanks were clearly visible behind him.
I do know whose interests Lennon is looking after in refusing to end this farce and insisting that there are no grounds for his dismissal.
Hell, he doesn’t even acknowledge that he should be under pressure. I know what his grand cause is; he’s looking out for himself. He has his own career to think about, and the state he leaves Celtic in at the end of this doesn’t appear to factor into his thinking.
I do know that Celtic’s media department guards its turf and that the Scottish media is absolutely hopeless when it comes to matters of tactics and playing systems; their English counterparts are on another planet at analysis of games.
So I understand why rare questions, authoritative questions, on these matters disquiet people inside Celtic Park … I just don’t understand why they do. If a fan group can ask intelligent questions like that and our manager can’t answer them, isn’t that something the club’s directors should want exposed so they can make a decision?
Before this week, I think most people in the support believed we had a professional boardroom which was only really being let down by a bad managerial decision and an unwillingness to change it. The impression fans have now, after half a week of scorn and ridicule and contempt, is very different. It has to have been one of the most disastrous few days in the club’s recent history, and it has nothing to do with a bad result.
This has been bad PR, the very worst kind, and the fans have responded with fury. Harmless protests outside the ground have now escalated to people actually taking money out of the club, believing the board has lost touch with reality.
These are self-inflicted wounds, and whilst much of this is not new at all but a belated awakening for a lot of people, it did not have to be this way. Had the board admitted its mistake and put the manager out of his misery we would be in front of this.
Instead, we’re facing more turmoil and more chaos, and an extended standoff between the club and the fans, with no end in sight. When fans don’t even believe a heavy defeat tomorrow night will move the needle they have to wonder what it will take.