I’ve spoken before on this site about Gordon Strachan, and how during the 2011-12 campaign he was the sole voice of sanity in the media as the press were anointing Rangers four in a row champions in November.
He had direct, first-hand experience of what it was like to steadily chip away at a league lead, and he had some sage advice for Neil Lennon.
“Just keep winning,” he said. “Focus on yourselves. You do it one point, one game, at a time.”
By the start of January, the following year we had edged out into the lead. We won our games in hand. We kept on believing. Strachan had accomplished something similar to win his third title. The steady chipping away at what looked like a solid lead … points on the board are not all that matter.
Potential points are just as important … as long as you win them.
Some in the media have called this title race already.
But in order to win the league you need to get all the job done, not just half.
If you’re looking at it “on paper” we are miles behind.
But football isn’t played on paper.
We have three games in hand. If we secure victories in them the lead is seven points. The Ibrox club could afford to lose two matches and still have a narrow advantage, but the one-point draw is what skews the whole picture. Draw two and the equation changes dramatically.
Our real problem is the goal difference equation, which is badly out of whack.
We need to start putting teams away, more routinely, because that’s as good as an additional point to them.
We have given ourselves a mountain to climb, but it’s not impossible.
There is a simple solution to our problem, of course; win at Ibrox. Cut their “in the bag” lead to four in a single stroke. Put the pressure back where it belongs. Are we capable of doing that? Sure we are. Do I think we will? Under Lennon, I have serious doubts.
But what we absolutely and definitely cannot do is influence a single one of their club’s results by worrying over them. They have to keep winning, or worry that we will get back into this thing. We’re not out of this by any manner of means; we’re not looking at “snookers” yet for a start.
This is very much still in our own hands.
All we have to do is win, consistently and well.
All we have to do is find that form again which this side is more than capable of.
The media would like nothing more than to crown the Ibrox club champions right now, but football doesn’t work that way.
Strachan is correct.
All teams drop points, and all you have to do is understand that universal truth and concentrate on your own game.
As long as we keep putting them up on the boards the opportunities to close that gap will come.
Ibrox will be a big one. It will not be the only one.