I had to laugh, today, as Alex McLeish imparted some of his priceless wisdom in the media, telling us all how even if Celtic win next Sunday that the league won’t be over. But everyone who actually does watch football in Scotland knows that’s exactly what it will be and that only a complete collapse at Celtic – inconceivable under Ange – would change the equation.
He invokes “Helicopter Sunday” of course, a tiresome argument which was being put forward two years ago just as the global health crisis was threatening to shut down the game. Those who argued that our lead could be pegged back were forever talking about it.
The events of that season are as fresh in my memory as they were at the time, and that’s how I can say with total confidence that if they are clinging to that this time next week they’ll be clinging to a rubber ring in a shark infested sea. The argument is pitiful because we were all over the shop towards the end of that season.
Going into the game that day we’d lost two of the last seven league matches, most notably a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hibs at home just a few weeks before, a defeat that everyone realised might prove to be a critical result, and one that left us barely hanging on.
The worst thing about what happened that day was that it wasn’t terribly shocking; we had all been terrified that something like it might happen.
This current team is in much better form than that, and with fewer games left to play. To lose from a six-point lead with vastly superior goal difference and only six games to go would take a capitulation of mind-bending proportions and it’s not simply unlikely as it is sheer fantasy. They would still have to come to Celtic Park for starters; who would bet against us?
If we win that game, put the ribbons on the trophy. It’s really as simple as that. There would be six games left at that point, and we’d need to lose half of them to relinquish our position, and they would have to win all of theirs just to have a chance.
McLeish knows it. Boyd knows it. McCoist knows it. They all know it. They are getting their excuses in early and trying to pretend that there will still be hope … but deep down they understand full well what the stakes are.