To a neutral, the question “Does Charlie Nicholas hate Celtic?” would seem absurd on the surface of it, if you had no understanding of his media persona.
You would look at his career history and a lot of goals for our club, over two different spells, and you might conclude that fans must love the guy, that he must be an icon and that he must hold a place for us in his heart.
Nicholas claims that’s the case. He claims to love Celtic.
But he’s never been treated as a favourite son. He may well be the least appreciated member of the 100 Goals club.
It’s not without good reason, because the question “Does Charlie Nicholas hate Celtic?” can but have only one answer and that answer is yes, although nobody could tell you why.
But somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, there is a splinter which causes him suffering and he blames that on us.
Somewhere in his psyche we did something to him – or he thinks we did something to him – which he simply cannot move on from.
Nicholas can barely speak or write about Celtic without grinding his teeth and screwing up his face and picking something negative to say. I can’t remember the last time he gave us praise, so constant is his sniping from the side-lines.
Charlie Nicholas, the footballer, can still occasion fond memories from those of my dad’s generation who watched him in his prime. I was born in 1976, I don’t remember his first spell at Celtic terribly well.
I do remember his second; it blended into the general darkness of those years when we languished in the shadow of Ibrox.
These are not fond memories.
But my memories of him are not tainted by that period.
I still have a lot of affection for some of the footballers who gave our club its service during that time, and a lot of them still speak fondly about our club to this day. Nicholas rarely does if he ever does.
Nicholas is a tragic figure to me, one of those people who constantly second guesses everything we do and paints it in the worst possible light.
He is utterly incapable of giving any sort of clear-headed analysis as far as we’re concerned … and I fear that Chris Sutton is in danger of turning into a next generation version of Nicholas, although he certainly has far more IQ points to spare.
Another question automatically arises; is Charlie Nicholas a genuine enemy of Celtic, someone capable of doing us harm, or is he just a bubbling whinger on the fringes of importance?
I think, if people believed him, he would certainly be capable of doing us harm.
When Nicholas speaks about goings on inside our club it would be easy for those who know nothing about him to assume that he’s doing it from a privileged position, and with knowledge to hand.
But Nicholas’ weakness, the thing that stops him being truly dangerous, is that it’s now so widely known that nobody inside Celtic trusts him enough to tell him the least thing that only a fool believes he has any clue.
He has no connections he can lean on.
He has no friends within who he can call and ask for the scoop.
No fewer than three Celtic managers that I can recall – Lennon, Rodgers and Strachan – have publicly called out his ignorance. I am sure Ronny Deila did as well, I just don’t recall him doing it.
The others, I remember well shooting back at him.
Lennon and Rodgers both pointed out that he’s persona non grata inside Parkhead, and there cannot be many former players for whom that is true. Nicholas is not an enemy of Celtic, only because he’s not important enough and because his lack of credibility amongst our support makes it difficult for him to get in our heads with false stories and nonsense.
But I am willing to bet that before long Ange Postecoglou will become the latest Celtic manager to tell a former player who should have iconic status with our club that his behaviour is not the act of a friend.