The league will have been well won by the time the Scottish Cup Final comes around.
All the souvenir tat at £55 a flag will have been discarded, ripped or stuffed in a cardboard box. The club across the city will have celebrated it and moved on. It will be yesterday’s victory and it will be yesterday’s news.
The Scottish Cup Final will be something new.
That’s why the news today that we’ve got a chance of actually competing in that competition is so good, and so important. No-one at Celtic should be under the slightest illusions about letting that one slip by without any pressure on us; we have to win it.
Winning a domestic trophy is always important. There aren’t any of us under the slightest illusions about that. But I think this one has a huge significance for us. Don’t let anyone kid you about this; if we had won the league and then gone on to lose the Scottish Cup the press would have been four-square until on it being the end of an era.
If a certain other Glasgow club were the ones who won it, the press would have been calling it a turning point. Well that cuts both ways, as we’re all perfectly aware.
Everyone outside of Celtic believes that this has been a totemic season, one where the so-called balance of power has shifted. It’s not true, and no amount of hype or spin or media flannel will make it so.
This has been a tough campaign, and of that there is little doubt, but to call it some major change in the landscape, some titanic realignment of Scottish football is wishful thinking on the part of our rivals taken to extremes.
They have had a campaign which has been exceptional in many respects, mainly for how much luck they have carried and how many “honest mistakes” they have benefited from.
I believe we’ll find out things about their conduct, in years to come, which present this campaign in an entirely different light and even call into question its legitimacy … time will tell on that one, but even if I’m wrong, it’s readily apparent that this has been a unique season.
Aside from their own spectacular “good fortune” – and my tongue is firmly in my cheek even calling it that – there’s been our own collapse which has been remarkable in and of itself and has made this a relatively pain-free season for them.
They’ve not been under real, sustained pressure in the course of it so far.
We are the architects of our own misfortune.
This unbelievable confluence of circumstances, both positive for them and negative for us, will not be repeated.
We’ll never see anything like this again in our lifetimes, and so anybody ascribing any great significance to it beyond it being the ten campaign and their club’s first title, should be extremely careful in doing so.
The media will, regardless.
The Scottish Cup gives us an opportunity to flip the media’s narrative on its head. Win it and we can end the season on a high, and not only dent their confidence but shatter the myth that they have are on the brink of a run of dominance.
We probably won’t have a new manager at the helm. That doesn’t matter, it won’t be used as an excuse or be accepted as one by anyone at Celtic Park. We will have the same squad of players who the press is accusing of being unfocussed and lazy; that’s an advantage we have to press to the fullest.
Because these guys still have something to prove.
Gerrard’s team is not unbeatable.
St Mirren proved that, but their forms in recent weeks has been patchy if we’re being generous to them. As this season winds towards its close its suddenly their team which looks vulnerable and ripe for exploiting.
The Scottish Cup relaunches our club, and this prior to the big changes that are expected in the summer. It reaffirms our dominant role in the game here. It reveals the league title going to Ibrox for the aberration I believe it to be.
That’s why we must compete in that competition, and why we must win it.