One of the themes we cover on this site often is perception versus reality, and it’s a tricky one because once perception hardens it becomes its own reality and then it becomes very difficult to shift.
There are examples of it all across our football club right now, and those perceptions are a serious problem that people inside the club need to deal with.
The perception that Barkas is a dreadful goalkeeper will persist until one of two things happens; he gets junked by the club and we bring in someone new or he produces enough to change minds.
The second of those is incredibly difficult to do because people’s views on him are now likely to be so entrenched that he will be blamed even when goals we concede aren’t his fault. His every mistake will be magnified, and pored over.
John Kennedy has a similar dilemma.
The view that he was part of the problem last season and cannot, therefore, be any part of the solution is so widely believed that I don’t think anything will shift it. Because Kennedy can’t turn this around.
Anything good that happens will be laid at the door of the manager.
The temptation to blame “bad coaching” will assure that Kennedy and Strachan continue to take the blame.
Does it matter whether there’s any truth in it? If it’s what people believe, and they aren’t going to change their view, then the results are the same; a mistrust of anything with his name on it.
Today Leigh Griffiths was booed by a section of the Celtic support.
Perhaps it won’t be a big section, once we have more fans in the ground, but the simple truth is that for him the honeymoon period is over and he’s entered a bad place in terms of his relationship with the people in the stands.
I knew that something like this was bound to happen.
I didn’t boo Griffiths today, but I damned well didn’t applaud him.
I don’t believe that anyone in the Hoops ever deserves to be booed just for being on the park, but some of them don’t deserve unqualified support either and he’s one of them.
The truth is, he’s behaved so recklessly and abysmally, and more than once, that a lot of fans are simply fed up with him now. His recent antics threatened to bring disgrace on our name, and we can ill afford that.
I’ve made no secret of how I feel; Griffiths doesn’t deserve to wear the jersey, and his presence was always going to be deeply divisive.
I understand, totally, why many people booed him today even if I didn’t necessarily agree with it.
I think he’s a distraction we can’t afford. I understand that the club is in a spot here because they can’t get shot of him without handing him a cheque, but I don’t think it’s in our interests to have him around any longer either.
He needs to be moved on.
Ange pointedly refused to criticise the booing. I thought, in fact, that his comments were absolutely magnificent, easily his most impressive so far since taking the job.
“I won’t be telling the Celtic supporters anything,” he said, when asked for a response to it. “They’ve followed this club a lot longer than I’ve been here. My job is to produce a team they’re proud of and we let them down today. Maybe it is a big challenge for him but that’s what he wanted. He didn’t have to come back. He wanted to come back and play for the club again. He wanted to contribute. When you make that decision, you embrace everything that comes along with it.”
Ange himself is making it clear that he’s pretty pissed with him as well … and although I love the sentiment, I disagree with the substance of what he said when asked how Griffiths should deal with it.
“That’s going to be down to Leigh and his performances,” he said. “If he works hard at training and produces the kind of football he can, scoring goals, I’m sure the crowd will get behind him.”
Some of the crowd will, but that’s likely that part which, sadly, doesn’t care what he does to embarrass himself, his family or this club as long as he’s scoring goals.
And yes, there are people who I’m sure he could turn around by performing who right now can’t wait to see the back of him.
But for others, their minds are made up and their view of Griffiths is not going to change no matter what he does in the colours, and some of them will probably be booing him for as long as he wears them.
His relationship with them is certainly at an end.
The perception of Griffiths as a trouble-maker goes far beyond what he does on the pitch.
The idea that this guy is just more trouble than he’s worth is now spread both wide and deep within the support and with some of them he’s reached a point of no return.
Part of the problem, of course, is that Griffiths himself has never offered any public statement, either of contrition or apology to any of us, and I think he owed the club and the support that.
I’m not saying it would make a difference to how a lot of people think, but it would be a sign that he understands the gravity of the situation he’s put himself in and is genuinely sorry for it.
He might well believe that this is a great injustice, but if he has any sense at all he’ll set his own hurt feelings aside and realise what he’s dealing with here.
Because the thing is, it doesn’t matter whether it’s fair or not, or right or not … that’s the trouble when perception hardens into what some people regard as reality.
It doesn’t matter what the facts, it only matters what people perceive … and as any PR person or politician will tell you, after a certain point has been reached there is no changing people’s minds any longer and you are forced to deal with the perception as if it was fact.
That’s why we should move him on, for the good of the club and for the player himself.
Because this probably isn’t going to stop, and it’s a matter of time before he reacts to it and then there’s all the trouble that comes with that and to be blunt, he’s just not worth the effort and the waste of energy that this club will have to expend on the matter.
Today is a clear sign that his being here will only distract us from more important business.
The writing is on the wall.
The sooner he moves on the quicker we’ll be done with this whole sordid affair.