Over at Ibrox the familiar refrain is that no-one likes them, they don’t care.
It might strike you, as it strikes me, as somewhat odd, then, that they continuously moan about it.
At Celtic we would never take pride in being hated, nor whine about it so much.
There is a part of our soul that makes us want to be loved.
We understand too that to give is to get, and we have many friends around the world to prove it.
Aside from being loved, we want to be respected.
Not feared, but known as an organisation that does things the right way, that is run right, a club that but for an accident of geography would be at the top table, and able to claim that we belong there.
For years that was how we were viewed.
Celtic was a draw, even if Scottish football itself was looked on as a modest environment.
We were capable of attracting top people.
But all that started to change, and I have always wondered if it started to change when our club’s own leadership started to market us as a “stepping stone” club instead of a big club in our own right.
Over on The Celtic Star today, Niall wrote an excellent piece which asked a couple of hard questions about our club and the difficulty our board seems to have “selling us” now.
That’s what got me thinking about this piece, and wondering when this began.
With the way our club presents itself, it was a minor miracle that we were ever able to attract a man like Rodgers in the first place.
He came here knowing that when he was signing players that they would be told the plan was to develop them and sell them on; Celtic actually adopted a policy of promoting itself on that basis.
I thought it was a dreadful ploy, and still do.
Every club is “a selling club.”
Even Barcelona could not stop the likes of Neymar from leaving when PSG made him an offer that suited his ego.
Every top club in world football has had to sell players to survive, or when they’ve wanted to go elsewhere.
Few clubs have actually marketed themselves that way, and none of the big ones ever has.
The policy itself promotes instability as a manager knows he can’t build a team and keep it together.
Such a policy locks you into short-term cycles, as we’ve seen.
But worse is the sort of mind-set it reveals.
When directors actually make it a point of policy to advertise their club as a feeder for richer sides it reveals a fundamental limit in their thinking and in their perception. It reveals weakness.
No wonder we’ve shown only limited ambition in the pursuit of a manager; our directors really do think in terms of “our level” and view the whole club through that prism, instead of putting their best foot forward.
And over time, that starts to eat into your credibility.
No matter how well you try to present yourself, people know that you lack the confidence to step out of the shadows and be more than you are. People stop taking you seriously.
And this is before you get a disaster like this, when the club is enduring apparently endless humiliation and looking amateurish into the bargain.
The club does not look strong at the moment.
It does not look powerful.
It does not look like a club that belongs at the top table … but the worst thing is, we don’t look like a club that believes it does either.
These events have done serious damage to how we are perceived by the rest of the game, and on top of that the word of how we act behind the scenes, of the restrictive thinking, of the way certain people interfere in every matter, has gotten out. Our issues are not a secret within the ranks of the coaches and players who we would need to reach the next level.
Rodgers is a mouthy git.
He will have told Howe what things inside the club have traditionally been like, and I strongly suspect that part of Howe’s reluctance flows from the idea that although there’s a lot of talk about big changes that there’s no actual sign of them taking place.
Had we hired a director of football Howe might have seen evidence of a plan.
But we are a shambles, and everyone in football is watching and knows that.
Everyone knows that until a proper structure in place that the non-football people will have undue influence on the football department and top coaches don’t trust that.
Amidst all the talk about Postecoglou, I’ve asked a lot why we’re interested in him.
Today a couple of Australian ex-pros have said we’re lucky to have him.
This is miles from the truth.
The fact is, only a candidate who sees this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – as Deila did, as Lennon did, as this guy does – would come in and work under the current system and with the current coaching team, which is a joke as everyone is well aware.
We have a reputation now as a club that is hard to work for, with people inside the walls who are always looking over the shoulder of the manager and the coaches.
This reputation is real, and it’s damaging, and this was before we were seen as a giant mess.
We are kidding ourselves not to think that these events are doing us harm.
This board found it difficult enough to sell our club as a progressive and forward thinking one when we were riding high.
This current shambles could do long-term damage to how the rest of the game views us, and that is dangerous and that is something that needs to be addressed.
The structure of this club has to change; that’s a fact.
But so too does our outlook and the way we present ourselves to the world.
Our culture has to change, it is too defeatist and narrow right now, it is too based on a weak self-image.
Dominic McKay has a lot to do.
The best way to start would be get the whole club out from under the bed, even if all we’re doing at first is promoting ourselves as being a big club again, even as we try to get the pieces in place to actually achieve greatness.
As a smarter man than me once said “Act as if you have faith and faith will be given to you. Or to put it another way, fake it until you make it.”
The first step towards achieving is believing.
And our problem is that we stopped, long ago.
Change that, and a lot of other things will fall into place.