Tomorrow I hope to publish a piece which takes a detailed look at the last ten days at Celtic Park, but it’s fair to say that this time last week the mood was pretty despondent and that was before the events of the following day. The club has been reeling ever since.
Let’s not kid on that any of us were particularly happy a week ago anyway; we’d come off the second 4-1 defeat at the hands of Prague and there was little enthusiasm for the League Cup match against Ross County, where to be honest you could tell fans feared the worst.
The fans had turned, decisively, after the first Prague defeat. The second set in stone the impression that Lennon should not be trusted with the Ross County tie. The club was very obviously taking a major risk with our long, superb, unbeaten cup run … so it proved.
The performance was dreadful. The result was appalling.
The insipid display convinced fans that a lot of people inside the club had chucked it, and the anger that has been building all season long finally erupted into something more than expressions of frustration on the internet.
The fan protest outside Parkhead had been coming.
And it got predictably ugly.
Celtic could have moved to defuse the anger with a holding statement or even the one the fans had been hoping for; instead they slammed the supporters in a bitter rant which lumped all opposition into the same boiling pot.
Fans who pushed down fences and went nose to nose with the police were equated with those who’d kept their powder dry and limited their questioning to the forums and blogs. It was cack-handed, dreadful, cynical and wrong.
The backlash was entirely predictable, with the mainstream press writing about nothing else for days and the fans furious at the club’s latest PR own goal, not to mention the viciousness with which the supporters had been attacked.
The club then changed tack, and tried to defuse the bomb they had primed with an appeal for unity which achieved the opposite when they claimed to have listened to our concerns but were still leaving Lennon in charge. He duly led us to Milan, where we conceded four after taking a two goal lead, and the manager get a delusional press conference where he said he thought the performance was excellent and that we were moving in the right direction.
Some of the forums and podcasts predicted a Friday stock market announcement; their hopes were in vain.
Nothing of the sort happened. Instead the club put up fences around the ground to keep the fans away.
A Green Brigade banner went up and a statement came out, demanding the manager’s head and those of the CEO and the biggest shareholder.
At every stage this week the club has gotten it wrong. We aren’t getting the tin ear as much as we are the two fingers. Tomorrow we play St Johnstone in a must-win game, where it’s not even clear if a defeat will have consequences other than for our title challenge.
Tonight it looks as if the board intends to hang onto the manager come what may. We are out of Europe. We are out of the League Cup. We’re on the brink of an unwanted record for goals conceded in the Europa League and our title challenge hangs by a thread.
And the gap between the board’s vision for the club and that of the fans has never looked so large or so obvious. Where the Hell do we go from here? Into another heavy seven days, starting tomorrow and ending on the brink of another league match at home against Kilmarnock.
Who the Hell knows what our club will look like by then.