In a couple of hours, we’re taking on a massive Champions League game. I think we’ve got a good chance of going through. But for the last few days the news around our club has been so negative that I wonder why we’re even bothering to show up.
There are a lot of reasons for getting transfer business done in a timely manner, but here’s one that is sometimes overlooked. When everyone knows you are shopping for a right back, you are crushing the confidence of the guy who’s currently playing in that position. It’s a big flashing neon sign to him that he’s not trusted to get the job done.
Tonight we’re going into the game fielding Barkas. Apart from the torrent of attacks on him by the whole of the mainstream press and large sections of the Celtic support, if he’s been online today he’s been reading about how we’re looking at Joe Hart. It would be a vote of no confidence even if Hart hadn’t spent the last two years sitting on the bench.
I know we’re not always going to be able to do business quickly. I know we’re not always going to be able to do it quietly. But if it all goes dreadfully wrong tonight, as fans are furiously looking for people to blame for that, it’s worth pointing out that Ralston and Barkas never stood a chance of going into this one with clear heads.
If they seem distracted it’s because their futures are up in the air. How would you perform at your job if it was you? I’m not blaming anybody for this; it’s the nature of the business.
But one of the reasons I’ve been vocally defending Barkas for months is that the wolves are coming for this guy and I don’t want to feed those bastards a Celtic player, for many reasons, but one of them is that if they know they can get away with this, no player at our club is ever going to get time to settle before the chorus of “why did they buy him?” starts up.
This is what infuriates me about Sutton and all the rest of the vultures who’ve spent the last few days picking at the bones of this team. It’s all well and good these folk saying the players and Ange won’t be “blamed” for a bad performance tonight, but when they are constantly hearing how they’re not up to the job it’s a distinction without a difference.
I think we’ll win tonight. I think we’ll go through. But this club needs to offer its footballers and its manager greater certainty because putting some of them through this is abysmal and stupid and absolutely counter-productive. We need to do business quicker in part because this doesn’t work, it affects morale and confidence.
In a week where Desmond’s people are leaking to the press how “hands-on” he’s being at the moment I see yet another example of his failure to understand us. We don’t care whether he’s suddenly focussed on Celtic again … we care about getting the job done. If he really wants to impress us he should start closing some of this damned transfer business.