International week is when all club football stops. We know it and we hate it. We would all rather be dealing with the business of Celtic, except that when internationals come around all that business grinds to a halt, at least in terms of the football operation.
Oh I have no doubt that small numbers of players go to Lennoxtown and that Ange and the coaches and performance analysts are busy doing what it is that they do during these spells when there are no club games being played, but things are much quieter than usual.
Into this quiet, the Celtic board could have seen an opportunity. An opportunity to get some of the club hierarchy in front of the fans. A chance to re-open the lines of communication. A chance for Ange to talk to us and tell us what his thinking is now he’s been in the job a while. A chance for the stand-in CEO to come out of hiding.
Other clubs might have taken this chance. They might have seized upon the opportunity and took their message to fan media, or to the supporter’s groups. There is still a week to go so perhaps they will, but I don’t believe anyone realistically expects them to.
If there was a plan, and if the club was following it, don’t you think they’d want to tell us that? Are we to assume, therefore, that no plan exists? That’s the natural conclusion to draw, or they’d be getting their side of the story out.
I have no worries about Ange; he has a plan and he’s enacting it. It might work and it might not, and only time will tell. But I’m confident that it’ll be successful. The important thing is that this guy isn’t making it up as he goes along, as his predecessor did and as those above him appear to be doing. We know this because he sits in front of the press every week.
I am not naïve enough to think that all activity inside Parkhead stops on an international week; the CEO runs the business as well as the football operation. If we had a proper football department some of the pressure would be taken off his shoulders; I don’t believe Nicholson should be remotely involved with so much high-pressure decision making.
But he is, and most fans do not know him and many of those who do don’t trust him and that’s the simple fact of it. Guys who’ve dealt with him don’t have much that is good to say; it might be that he has suffered for working under Lawwell but even accounting for that we have no reason to believe that he’s qualified for the job that he’s in.
How hard would it have been for him to block off a few hours during the international break to address some of these concerns? A Q&A with the manager wouldn’t have gone amiss either, especially as we’ve broken our away match hoodoo and players are starting to come back to fitness again. There are questions a lot of fans would have loved to ask.
Even if they didn’t want to face the fan media – I know Ange wouldn’t have been in the least bit concerned by the prospect – they could have fielded a couple on the in-house channel or set up a live YouTube session … anything but this incessant silence, and what lies behind it; the pretence that everything is okay, that everything is normal.
Nobody really believes that. We look a shambles. We will continue to look a shambles until that perception is replaced by signs of life. We blew this week. Who thinks we’ll do better in the one in front of us?