There have been some superb comebacks from Celtic bosses down through the years when they have been asked questions about the Ibrox clubs. I have heard withering put downs and casual dismissals. I have heard expressions of disinterest and I have heard obvious attempts to ratchet up the pressure. But I have now heard the answer to top the lot.
Ange is bored with the questions about them. He has tried every possible way to get that across to the media. He has stated, in straightforward language, that he does not care what other teams do or are doing, that we are only focussed on us.
He has made it about as clear as he can, and still he gets asked.
Today he was asked if he’ll be watching their game tomorrow. Good God. Why should he? Ange’s job is done for the weekend. His remit was to get the three points that send us to Ibrox guaranteed to still have that cushion at the top. Today we were spellbinding in parts of that game, so for the boss it’s “job done, mission accomplished.”
If the gap is more than three points after tomorrow, that’ll be because someone else – the manager at Ibrox – did not do his own job. Ange can’t control that either way. This is something he’s been saying over and over again as well … we worry only about the things that we can influence ourselves. That is how title winning managers think.
Still, the question keeps on coming and when it did today his answer was … perfect.
“My Sundays are dictated by my wife and kids, mate,” he said. “If Sing 2 is on TV or something I’ll have to fight for the remote control.”
Of all the answers to Ibrox questions I’ve ever heard in my time doing this job, this is going to be my all-time favourite unless he has something even better later on. Ange will not be watching their game, cause his kids would prefer a cartoon starring Bono. I mean, that’s sensational. That’s hilarious and brilliant and even a little contemptuous.
“Look, I get why people are sort of focusing on that and I get the questions – maybe I should just say yes so people stop asking it – but I don’t worry about things I can’t control,” he said next, as if the point needed further emphasising. “What we could control is today. We got three points today, why would we even bother looking at anything else?”
And if that doesn’t get across our manager’s message in a way even the thickest hack can understand that I don’t know what more Ange can do.
He is laughing at them for it now.
He is openly mocking their continuous falling back on this ridiculous point.
You’d think we were the club under pressure. We’re not. Ange pointed that out too.
We’ve had our spell of the pressure. We dealt with it.
“We’ve had to be really focused,” he said. “If we start thinking about that now we would’ve been thinking about that at the start when we were on six points after seven games. We’ve done our bit … I’ll spend my Sunday with my family. When we get back in and ready to go again we’ll tackle the next game and try to get three points.”
Ibrox is next, of course, and if we leave there with three points then there’s no further need for the press to ask whether we’re watching them or not, because we’ll be a minimum of six points clear with only six games left by then … game over.
Ange could have won us over with good performances on the pitch, but he is so much more than that.
He has a mastery in front of the media I’ve not seen in my lifetime following this club.
He’s the front man that Gordon Strachan – that other great terror of the hacks – wishes he was.