There isn’t a single one of us, not one, who in our working lives has not made a mistake.
We all do it, to one extent or another.
The oft heard wisdom is that the greater the responsibility, the greater the mistakes.
A guy working in the boiler room of a multi-national corporation might screw up from time to time and the company will not feel any adverse effects. But if the captain of a great ship falls asleep at the wheel, that causes problems for everyone.
Good leaders understand that, and they act according to that understanding.
In short, they behave reasonably, responsibly and, most importantly, they welcome scrutiny and even, when it’s warranted, criticism. The Celtic board has shown no inclination towards some of those things.
I’ve got to be honest, there was a time when I felt like they did care.
There was a time when I thought they did respect the opinions of the fans, although they’ve never been on quite the same wavelength as us.
I know there were people inside Celtic Park who mourned the death of Rangers; Dermot Desmond is on record feeling sorry for them and Lawwell could only think about how their demise might cost us money.
These are facts.
Those of us who grew up in the shadow of Murray and knew that we were cheated out of titles, who understood the mentality of that club because we live in close proximity to it and its more degenerate supporters, felt not the least bit of regret.
I know guys who carried fake coffins, who were amongst the many thousands flying the black flags at Parkhead on the day of the Four Horsemen banner and I wrote the “obituary” of the club, as a special for CQN Magazine, with a smile on my face as I did it.
But, I never believed that Scottish football would be without a club called Rangers; that was not going to happen, and I didn’t hold Celtic accountable for the “failure” to bury them.
It wasn’t in our hands to stop that, it wasn’t in our power to prevent the sale of the assets to whoever wanted them, but it was in our power and it was our responsibility to make sure that the club which took their place was treated just the same as every other club starting from scratch.
Furthermore, and in respect of that, I do not believe that our club was ever minded to accept the NewCo being parachuted into the SPL.
I am assured – and I believe the assurances – that we were committed to voting against that outcome come what may, but that there was a degree of fatalism inside Celtic that it could be prevented.
It was only after it became clear that other clubs were just as appalled and that, additionally, their supporters were not willing to tolerate such a corrupt outcome, that we recognised that there was a chance to build a coalition in opposition to the idea and that it had enough votes to be successful. At that point, we made our views on it public.
This is not just ancient history.
This has resonance in where we are today.
I believe that our club really is the “shining city on the hill”, that more often than not we’ve gotten things right … that we’ve tried our best to be a good example to the rest of the game.
And in some ways, the strategy itself has been right on the nose.
But it’s all gone terribly, terribly wrong and I think it’s because people just got too comfortable, too complacent, too old and ran out of passion for this club and the idea that it could be something better.
There are some who believe, wrongly, that what we saw this season was deliberate sabotage.
That’s the accusation they level at the club.
I have pondered that possibility, and on night’s like last night, when I am pissed off, it is often hard to dismiss the idea as wholly ridiculous.
Because let’s be honest for a minute here.
You could, if you were in the shoes of our directors, and had no concern other than the financial position of the club, make an argument in favour of the idea that Celtic’s total dominance of Scottish football actually has negative consequences for us in the long term.
You could also argue that pushing the second Ibrox club to a final spending spree and their inevitable collapse would devastate the landscape of the game and was thus something to avoid.
I don’t believe a word of that, I don’t believe any of those arguments are valid, but if you were thinking about this on the level of a pen-pusher or numbers guy there is a case to be made and a discussion to be had, at the strategic level, about how best to proceed.
I know this; ten in a row would have driven Ibrox’s second club to the brink.
Knowing that some inside Celtic, including those who matter, were aghast the first time, could you mount a coherent case that maybe those people didn’t think it was in our best interests to win that title?
Of course you could.
Nevertheless, as I’ve stated repeatedly on this blog and elsewhere, I do not believe that we acted in respect of the above scenario.
We didn’t deliberately throw it away, of course we didn’t.
The upside to winning that tenth title, and pushing Ibrox back to the edge, is equally obvious if you look at it.
This wasn’t an act of self-sabotage, but it was an act of self-harm, brought about because those at the helm aren’t as smart as they think they are or as good as they think they are or as strategically minded as they think they are.
This was incompetence.
These folks got carried away and started to believe their own hype.
That led them to enormous miscalculations and errors of judgement.
We all make mistakes at work, and the greater the responsibility the greater the mistakes.
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Most critically, the success the club was enjoying blinded these people to their failings.
It led to arrogant presumptions and an unwillingness to engage with criticism instead of doing what genuinely smart people do, which is listen to all of it and see what they might learn.
What a massive, and costly, failure that might eventually prove to be.
More and more, it seems that their true feelings of scorn are held for their own customers, us, the fans.
They cannot continue to treat fan opinion with contempt and criticism with hostility.
Yet it seems to me that people at Celtic Park, even now, refuse to understand that.
They believe, wrongly, that they can simply carry on as they are without being held to account.
Their response to the criticism has been ludicrously OTT.
Fans were branded “self-entitled” because, shock horror, they dared to want the best for their team.
The fences went up, a gesture of potent symbolism which I cannot believe no-one inside Celtic Park recognised.
Worse, the club made sure that the media published the line that they were “holding firm” on Lennon not because they believed in him so much as to spite the supporters.
It is this kind of vulgar insult that we’ve sadly become accustomed to, and this crass stupidity didn’t even start here, and it didn’t even start with Lawwell’s scandalous shower scene comments about sticking manager’s CV’s in a drawer without looking at them and hiring Lennon instead, although as stone stupid statements go that one is up there with anything Kris Boyd has ever uttered.
It is not the fault of the fans that Lennon flopped.
It is not our fault that we saw the full scale of the disaster looming when the directors were still in denial.
It is not our fault that the club has been left with a momentous rebuilding job in the summer which it seems to me that nobody even knows how to start.
It is not our fault that the club is yet to hire a director of football although we’ve been looking for one since at least December.
It’s not our fault that this has led to major problems in finding the manager.
It is not our fault that Scott Brown is only the first player to announce that he’s not hanging around whilst this club stumbles about like a drunk in the dark.
It is not our fault that all this uncertainty and chaos are feeding the rumour machine.
It’s not our fault that our temporary manager is presiding over a team which looks bereft of confidence and purpose … because most of the players won’t be here next year.
None of this is our fault.
We are not the ones being paid hefty salaries to sort this crap out.
We are not the ones with the responsibilities inside the walls.
We can only watch, in horror, as it unfolds … but we will not, under any circumstances, even under threats or intimidation or scorn or in the face of contempt, watch it unfolding in silence.
If those inside Celtic Park believe that we will then I suggest they go for a lie down in a dark room because they are out of their minds.
We’re the ones who are in this for the long haul, and with the lifetime commitment.
We built Celtic. We are Celtic.
This board is arrogant and elitist and out of touch with the views of the fans, and I think increasingly with reality itself.
They would prefer it if we all shut up and handed over our money.
It is not going to happen like that.
We can forgive mistakes, because everyone makes mistakes and the bigger the responsibility the bigger the mistakes.
What we won’t forgive is being treated like mugs and played for fools.
I know there are people inside Celtic Park who are angry at the supporters for subjecting them to scrutiny and criticism, and as unused to that as they are, I know how bad it must feel.
But to those people I can only say “too damned bad.”
Because this is the job of anybody who cares about this club; to hold those in charge of it to account, and when they are messing it up – and boy, oh boy, what a mess they are making right now – we’re going to continue to say so and drive that message home.
If they want us to stop that, they only have to get their act together.