There is something fundamentally dishonest about the “debate” going on at Ibrox right now over whether or not to field a “weakened team” for tomorrow’s game, when they have a European semi-final second leg to come next week.
They think that they are fooling us with this chatter?
First, it won’t happen. Secondly, the whole debate reeks of fear. Not the fear of RB Leipzig putting them out, but the fear of their best rolling into Parkhead and being sent home on the end of another hiding.
All season long, Ibrox has been in denial that we have become the better team.
They have sought, at every stage, to find excuses or make excuses for why their side is behind ours in the league, why they came to Celtic Park and were leathered, and why we went to Ibrox and won.
They can use the Scottish Cup to try to convince themselves different, but they know that coming to our home ground in a must-win game is where the matter will be decided.
Because of course, if Celtic wins this then that’s the title race over and amongst the Ibrox fans and some sections of the media that will have to be … explained away.
Their favourite team is, after all, in a Europa League semi-final, so how can it be that an Australian manager no-one has ever heard of, and a team assembled largely of players whose names those fans can’t spell, has bested them and in a fashion that wins the league with room to spare?
“Oh that’s easy,” they will say. “We played the deciding game at Celtic Park with half a team. Had we won that day …” and so fantasy will replace reality for another summer and they will queue up and buy their tickets and wonder why by the end of it the Celtic fans are confident that Ange and his team will sweep the boards and win the treble.
This is why they are talking about fielding half a team … because to do otherwise might shatter the foundations on which the latest lie is built. They need to keep on believing in it, because otherwise they might have to face the truth … and the truth hurts.
In the end, their manager clings to his own delusions and will probably play as close to a full strength team as he can. They will blame him for that if they lose tomorrow and then go out on Thursday.
It may even be that the calls for his heads will be renewed.
It matters not to us. We are closing in on this title, and whatever side they put out there, I fully expect that we’ll swat it aside. This has been a momentous campaign for this team … and tomorrow they can all but end it. I expect them do just that.