“We threw it away.” “We fucked it.” “We handed it to them.”
Variations on a theme. That Celtic’s sterling form and beating them the last twice in the league doesn’t mean anything at all. A team which wins as consistently as we have deserves to win the title.
But that challenges everything in their tiny brains.
They still believe Ange is a bad manager.
They still believe all the stuff they wrote when we signed the likes of Kyogo earlier in the season. They have watched these guys regularly by now, and they simply cannot make the pieces fit. They have all the evidence in front of them, but assembling it into a complete thing is apparently beyond their capabilities.
So they look for ways to explain it, and the idea that they handed it to us is only the first of them. Still, the form itself cannot be so easily dismissed, but they have explanations for that too.
We are lucky. Refs help us out. Teams don’t try against us, probably because there are too many Catholics in their ranks or something.
There’s always something.
A handful of them dare suggest that maybe we’re better than the rest are giving us credit for.
They are bawled out for it.
They are called fenian interlopers.
Finally, they fall silent, and allow the crazies free reign. And the crazies cannot comprehend that we got the big decisions right with signings and that we hired the right man in the dugout.
The leap is difficult because it asks haunting questions about what next season could look like.
If we start winning straight away, continuing where we’re leaving off, what then? What if their own rebuild gets them off to the kind of bad start we did? We might be well clear before they even get their feet under them. If we had started this campaign even a little bit better this title race would have been decided, in our favour, weeks ago.
What might that mean for next season? What might that mean when we improve this squad further? On some level them must know all this. On some level it must be obvious to them, but denial is a powerful force over there.
Nobody does it better than their fans do.
I can well understand why these sort of frightening thoughts need to be pushed aside. I just marvel at their ability to do it. They are looking for answers by asking the wrong questions.
The thing is, eventually this dive down the rabbit hole will end with them turning on their own club. Which, actually, is a belated realisation that massive mistakes have been made there over the years, and even this season.
None of it detracts from our own superiority … but you don’t have to look too far to see that our January window was a triumph and theirs was a disaster, for example, and speaks to major failings with their recruitment team and those above them.
This is a big week for their club … it’s also the one where a couple of their more elaborate fantasises for how this season might end collapse in on themselves. When it’s over and they are poking through the wreckage, with a Scottish Cup left to play for, the real recriminations will start.
And in the meantime, Celtic will continue to do what we’ve been doing all season. Growing. Evolving. Moving towards the summer with confidence … justified confidence.
By the time this campaign is over, even denial will not save them.