There’s a moment in the magnificent TV show Succession when one character is musing to another about the perils of living in hope.
“What’s good,” he says, “is to eradicate hope. They can’t get you if you got no hope.”
In the context of who he has available for some of our coming games, that’s almost exactly the attitude taken by our manager.
Ange is not afraid of those circumstances.
He accepts that we might need to do without and he is past the point where he’s going to let the slim chance that we can avoid it interfere with his planning. He’s preparing for the worst case scenario.
Ange is laying the groundwork for Plan B.
There is an outside chance that we will have some of our Japanese players available for the games in late January and early February.
A couple of them might not be selected.
Kyogo might not be fit enough for the first game, which means he won’t travel for the second either.
But more important, the Japanese authorities might not allow our players in.
The report from Japan this morning – which The Record and other outlets are clinging to – depends on the source being right.
For all we know the writer of the piece could be their version of Keith Jackson, allowing himself to become excited with a vague possibility.
He speaks of “public interest” in the foreign players, but only one “public interest” will dictate this; the spread of the virus in a country which has never seen this many cases.
Football is a very small part of the equation over there, as it is over here.
If their government takes a hard line and decides to nix this, then it’s not improbable that those players will still be in Scotland when those World Cup Qualifiers take place.
We are allowed to hope, although I have resigned myself, as Ange has, to the fact the games will probably have to go on without them.
The manager doesn’t have the luxury of clinging to it.
He has to push it far from his mind, which is why he’s been at great pains to point out that Celtic will not stand in any player’s way or seek special exemptions.
The club may still exercise the option of calling for a postponement.
He has all but ruled that out, but because he hasn’t actually used those words or done so explicitly there is still a chance that Celtic will opt for that course of action; it seems highly unlikely.
Ange will plan for the games without them.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but these are the circumstances in which we find ourselves and there’s really no time or space for being maudlin about it. And it’s better that we don’t let hope stop us from moving forward.
All that does is prevent us from exploring the options we do have.
Nobody at Celtic will fall into that trap.
We can still cling to it, a little, but only after we’ve laid out the alternatives.
There is no harm in hoping for the best, as long as you prepare for the worst.