Every crisis is an opportunity.
This is one of the great truisms of our world.
Whatever the field of endeavour, when someone’s stock is sliding it’s usually because someone else’s is going up. When someone is taken off the board for any length of time, whatever the cause might be, someone else has a chance to get his game on.
If you were a Celtic youth striker, apparently doomed to languish in the reserves for years, hearing that in addition to the three first team forwards already at the club – as well as the one out on loan – that we are probably bringing in another in January, you might have been forgiven for thinking that your own chance was never, ever going to come.
And you’d have been wrong. Because it’s here.
So tonight, you might just be feeling that itch, that itch an ambitious politician gets when they see a major post open up, or that those in the acting business feel when they get their hands on a script where they know there’s a perfect role, or which any footballer who thinks he has the talent obviously feels when injuries or loss of form moves them steadily into contention.
There’s a story I’ve always loved about Nixon, ruminating on the eccentricities of fortune and how they pushed him step by step towards the White House.
Nixon had a ghoulish way of looking at things; he would wander around the Residence at night having bizarre conversations with the portraits of his predecessors.
For years, he was convinced that Death itself had steered his path to that place.
First, the death of his older brother, which allowed him to go to college; then the death of JFK which resurrected his political fortunes and made the Democrats beatable and finally the death of Bobby Kennedy, who was the only real force who could have stood in his way.
Tony Blair felt the same nagging feeling of destiny having come around for him at the moment he heard that John Smith had died; from that point on there was never any question that he would step aside or stand back from running for the leadership of Labour.
As morbid as that idea is, Nixon never wasted any time dwelling on death until he had the prize in his hands, when he could afford a little introspection. Blair famously stepped over not only Smith but his friend and colleague Gordon Brown.
It requires ruthlessness. It requires sky-high self-belief, even bordering on arrogance. Does anyone in our youth ranks possess those qualities? We’re about to find out.
Because tonight, there’s a hero waiting to be born.
Someone has to step up and lead the line at Parkhead.
It may well be that this player is already in the first team squad; Mikey Johnston perhaps, or Liel Abada, James Forrest or, when he’s fit, Giakoumakis.
But it’s equally possible that the moment for a Rocco Vata or an Owen Moffat has finally come around.
I know this; the ones who believe in themselves most will be the ones most likely to get that call, and right now, as things stand this evening, they should be waiting by the phone.
The manager will know who possesses the right mentality, and they will be in his thoughts.
We play football in a certain style.
This is why I believe it’ll most likely be Mikey on the left and Liel Abada on the right until Forrest is fully fit.
And that means that neither of them will be playing through the middle.
But somebody has to.
Last night, we saw the underused members of the first team squad get a run-out. This wasn’t the reserve side; it was the B side. It was the guys who sit on the bench every week, lamenting their lack of opportunities.
Below them is a whole other group and the chances are that a couple of players from those ranks are going to be promoted.
At least temporarily.
But it’s up to them to steal the show, the way so many actors and actresses in supporting roles, whose fates were supposed to be as bit-part players or worse, as cannon fodder, made themselves so indispensable that they became key characters.
The most famous example is Breaking Bad’s Jessie Pinkman; he was meant to die at the end of season one, but Aaron Paul’s performance was so outstanding that the writers ended up shaping nearly every major plot development around him.
That’s how to grab the chance when it comes along, and for the next three weeks there are a number of players at Celtic who might not get a better one for a long, long time.
And at first, yes, it will be a mere cameo … but this could be their career defining moment.
The only question is, who’s it going to be?