At some point during any crisis, we all entertain our worst fears. But where do our fears come from? From our head or from our gut? When we’re looking over the situation at the club right now, are we judging it based on what we feel or what we think?
Before this article is finished we’ll have conducted a little experiment into both.
Let’s start by looking at Celtic’s chances on the head level.
There really isn’t much doubt that we have a squad which is capable of beating any other side in the country if our players are all fit and they are in the mood to attend to business. We know this, but we also know that there are off-form days and we certainly know about injuries.
Yet one of the reasons I’m so scornful of the idea that we didn’t do enough in the transfer market to properly equip the manager is that I know even with all these problems we put a team out on the park that ought to have won at the weekend.
Indeed, but for the woodwork and some dire refereeing we certainly would have done enough to take three points.
I think we’ll win the league.
There are some who will say I’m delusional. You know what? It’s just as well that it’s not actually a dictionary word, that there’s no real definition of what delusional means in there. Because that means I don’t even have to answer the charge.
In my head, I see enough evidence that we’ve got the best chance.
The six-point deficit doesn’t concern me overmuch because I don’t believe our rivals are any great shakes and when we hit a run of form we will chop that lead down and move away from them. They had an exceptional campaign last year, but this season already resembles Gerrard’s first and second. Whatever gave them that extra juice no longer works. They will drop many more points.
I think we play the more exciting football. I think when this squad is fully fit and the players have had time to gel we’ll be a different proposition. I am comforted by the knowledge that we’ve already seen how good we can be, in flashes, and in matches.
I’ve given our title chances a lot of thought.
And what’s more, I have a strong gut feeling about it too, and when all else fails that’s what a lot of us fall back on.
In my gut, I believe that we will be more than a match for anyone else in Scotland once we click. I just get a sense about it, that we’re on the brink of something momentous and that it won’t take two years to get there, or even another influx of players in January.
It’s just a feeling I have that we’re carrying a lot of psychological baggage right now and that once we drop it it’ll be gone and stay gone. Beat Aberdeen at the weekend, and the apparent away-day hoodoo is broken, the curse is lifted and I think we’ll crack on with confidence.
I get a gut feeling about the situation across the city too; I suspect there are real problems inside the walls, in terms of money, in terms of players testing the limits of their own contracts, I think more than a few would like to be able to leave … they have problems behind the scenes, I reckon, and those will only grow as we get closer to January.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two people who have most scorned the idea of a title being decided by October are from outside of Scotland and are strangers to the bubble. Both Ange himself and Jota are plainly astonished that there are people writing off our challenge this early in the day; they have probably never seen anything like it before.
These guys know it is absurd, and I am glad that they are in the Celtic dressing room reminding other people that it is absurd, because the moment a squad starts to believe this stuff then they are beaten and we all might as well chuck it.
I said a moment ago that before this article was finished we’d have conducted a little experiment in both thinking and feeling; in fact, we already have.
When I said that delusional isn’t a dictionary word and it has no real meaning, be honest; how many of you felt the ground beneath your feet shift, even just a little?
How many of you stopped and said “Really?” or even checked it?
How many of you knew that I was full of it, but felt an urge to verify it anyway?
It is remarkably easy to shake the foundations both of what people know and what people feel deep down, and this was a two-bob experiment that I can’t even claim credit for because I read it somewhere else and it shook me for a second as well.
Because even 99% sure isn’t 100% and in the moment I actually wasn’t 100% sure I was right because the writer stated it with such conviction and surety that I had a brief moment where I questioned it myself.
And that’s an important lesson, because one of the problems of living here is that you are surrounded by a constant swirl of pro-Ibrox propaganda and anti-Celtic negativity, no matter the circumstances the two clubs find themselves in, and at a times it does challenge your own perceptions and your own instincts even when you feel like things are going well.
It is perfectly natural to feel doubts when an entire industry of so-called “experts” is telling you that you should, and that’s all we get day after day after day. They call it background noise because it is there, all the time, constant, never letting up.
Everything is being weaponised to challenge any optimism we might have. Stats showing his record as “worse than Lennon”; talk about the worst start to a league campaign in decades; stuff on the away record, much of which isn’t even Ange’s fault …
But stop for a minute and ask yourself; is this the worst Celtic team in decades?
Are they as bad and as lifeless as they were under Lennon?
Do you really believe that Ange should be held accountable for the away record, when he’s been here only a few months?
Are there mitigating factors, like the injury crisis?
How many genuinely bad performances have we seen?
Doubts are natural.
During a crisis we all entertain our worst fears … but is this even a crisis? Can it properly be called one? Or are we in a difficult spell with some light at the end of the tunnel? There is plenty of evidence pointing to that conclusion.