In the first article today I talked about cost.
I mentioned the film Shallow Grave.
Now, two historical examples come to mind, and they made a great film about one of them; We Were Soldiers, the movie about the first large scale military engagement between the US and the forces of North Vietnam, the Battle of Ia Drang
Although it ends in success for the Americans, the commander of the Viet Cong correctly concludes that the US will draw all the wrong conclusions from the victory and that it will lead them to greater engagement in a war that would be appalling for both sides.
The second historical example is from the Pyrrhic War, between Epirus and Rome, which had drastic consequences for the Greek city state.
Their victory over the Romans at Asculum came at such an incredible price that Pyrrhus, their king, said afterwards “One more such victory against the Romans and we shall be utterly ruined.”
It is from these remarks the notion of the Pyrrhic Victory comes; a win that comes at such a cost that it serves no purpose whatsoever.
Those who will not “pay for the privilege” and thus prove their fealty will be kept at arms length.
As they aren’t going to get this job done, let us do it instead.
So for a moment, let us examine what actually happened last season and what the full impact of it was on our club and on theirs.
What was the impact on Celtic?
Well it cost us ten in a row.
It saw Neil Lennon depart. It ended the tenure of Peter Lawwell and it ushered in a period of change.
Ange became manager and McKay became the CEO.
The impact of losing ten in a row lasted for a year.
We certainly lost a great marketing opportunity, and of course the fans were devastated to have seen the prize slip away.
But be practical for a moment and think it through.
Are we worse off for it in any real sense?
The season ticket sales still went well; the club is still financially robust.
The change in leadership is broadly agreed upon as being positive.
The new manager has the right ideas and his ideas have been backed by the club in the transfer market and more is to come.
The loss of ten in a row was like the pressing of the reset button at Celtic Park.
From the outside looking in, our enemies made the same mistakes as the US did over that first Vietnam engagement; they thought winning the battle meant that they’d ultimately win the war.
It was never going to be that simple.
At Ibrox, they gambled to win the ten.
But as we’ve already discussed, it might have cost them more than the victory was worth.
Because their gamble was in two parts, and they came up short on the second.
Stopping the ten was a goal in itself, and they got that, but the reward for that is a short-lived sense of achievement. Yet, in practical, real world terms, it was a mere means to an end and they did not get over the final line, which they had counted on.
Put simply, the gamble has failed.
Now come the costs, and as we wait for those to crystalize it is very important that our club responds in the correct way to what has just occurred.
Regular readers will know that I never accepted the narrative being proposed that the tide had turned against us; our club is far too strong for the one at Ibrox to have gained any medium to long term advantage over us from winning a single title.
But in the short term, yes, had they got through last night they would have had for themselves a more advantageous battlefield on which to fight the next engagement, even if the strategic situation still essentially favoured Celtic.
That’s over now.
King’s “house of cards” prediction depended on us collapsing under what he hoped would be a knock-out blow; instead we got ourselves up from it.
That guaranteed that the worst outcome for us was a war of attrition, and we would have won that for the reasons this blog has outlined again and again and again.
But even that isn’t going to happen now; like lightning the battlefield situation has been transformed and the tactical and strategic implications are obvious.
This is not the time for Celtic to be timid; indeed, this is the moment when we should pound the living daylights out of them, whilst they are reeling, whilst they are psychologically shot.
If we sign a couple of good players in the next week we will massively destabilise their club.
Fan pressure on them will be such that they will be faced with one of two unpalatable choices; to sell players to balance the books even as we grow stronger, or to appease their supporters by vowing to beg, borrow and steal ever more money for one last reckless shot at delivering that killer blow, with even greater consequences down the road.
Even in the event they attempt that, it’s not clear that UEFA will permit it with the club now certainly in violation of FFP regulations, even taking into account the year’s grace that the global health crisis gave them.
The simple truth is, they now need to cut costs or pay some kind of price in front of the European governing body.
There is no escaping it.
In truth, by parking the tanks on their lawn we will force a reckoning with their own supporters, as a result of the last decade’s profligacy.
We can do it in the knowledge that they probably can’t respond to it in any meaningful way.
Our show of strength would simply expose how weak they are, and that would start the process of splitting the current board from their supporters at a time when they are weakening the hand of the manager who, because of last season, is a favourite son in the stands.
All too often, this club of ours seems reticent about capitalising on a moment of strength.
Celtic has screwed up the last 18 months.
They couldn’t have won that title without the collective failures at Parkhead.
This time we simply must do the proper thing, because it will be decisive in determining how this campaign goes, and that, as we know, carries impacts both financial and structural which will reverberate into next season as well, allowing us to move even further ahead and quite possibly for many years.
In a very real sense, we have them exactly where we want them.
They over-reached, failed to secure their goals and now their army is stranded far from home, in our territory, facing the impossibility of total victory and staring, instead, into the abyss of catastrophe.
(I can use that word even if the mainstream media was reluctant to.)
Many years ago, in my 2009 article The Death Of Rangers? I quoted Ray Croc, the man who turned the McDonald’s chain into a giant conglomerate, a businessman as ruthless as any who ever lived.
“If my rivals were drowning,” he said, “I’d stick a hosepipe in their mouths.”
Jam it in there, McKay.
Open the valves to the maximum, and turn on the taps.
Do it, Celtic.
Hit them hard enough, right now, and we can finish this before the season even properly starts.