It was Michael Hutchence who sang that “bitter tears taste so sweet.”
It was The Magnetic Field’s maestro Stephen Merritt who wrote that “bitter tears keep me going, through the years freely flowing.”
We should echo those sentiments tonight because one of the best things about winning this title is how sick it has made some people … even Peepul who think they might have something of their own to celebrate before this season is over.
To understand the depth of their anger and frustration over this you have to understand that none of this was meant to happen. They dreamed of Champions League football, not Europa League games. They dreamed of watching a title winning side defend that title and add to it. They thought that a clean sweep might even be on, such was the state of Celtic.
It all comes down to that. They have spent the last few days expecting us to have a collective collapse because they reached their final; it hasn’t happened and it was never going to. Because we aren’t in the least bit interested in what they do unless, or until, it concerns our club in some way. We had business to do today, and everyone was focussed on that.
The next thing to focus on is Wednesday, when we officially wrap this up. The focus then moves towards the title party at home. From there, where? Easy … right into the summer where the focus will be on the transfer window and the business to be done.
Will we spend time on the opposition? Well it would be slightly mad not to. Depending on the shape they are in we will either be sniggering or pushing Celtic to go that extra mile. But that’ll be the extent of it … our successes belong to us, our triumphs we celebrate for their own sake, our days in the sun are devoted to Celtic alone.
Their bitterness, then, is partially born from their disbelief that any of us is here. The blithe assumption that we would simply fold the hand after last season’s fiasco and be out of the orbit of titles and trophies for a couple of years was more or less universal amongst their ranks and the mainstream press. They looked at the 25 point gap and treated it like a parliamentary majority; something that would need chipped away one campaign at a time.
How stupid they are. How lacking in historical memory. The last time they won a title by that margin we overturned it in a year. They expected a collapse then too, but Celtic has always been built of stronger stuff than that. Still, they believed their own PR.
All season long ,the crescendo has been growing. The questions the manager has had to answer have become increasingly spiteful and snide. They have tried everything to trip him up but he has navigated all of it with style and charm and good humour, although he does snap from time to time and in particular with the BBC who he was in no mood for again today, telling them that only they could make a title win sound like a downer.
But to them, it is a downer. To the bitter anti-Celtic section which simply will not give us credit for anything and who had written the manager off before a ball was kicked to that other section of the press which is so full of its own self importance that it refuses to acknowledge that they got it wrong. That is something that makes my blood boil.
In this gig, we all get stuff wrong. I’m the guy who made the Pedro comparison. Today I said that the title party would be held in Motherwell instead of Dundee; I meant the last game, not the next game, and the home game rather than the away game … whatever way you dress it up, my mind was elsewhere. But you cop it, you grin and you move on.
What you don’t do – and which the hacks have done – is refuse to acknowledge your mistake. What you don’t do is continue to hold a negative view of a man and a team who have made you look like mugs … because deep down you know you’ve been made to look like mugs. Grow a thicker skin or take up a different profession … instead they ask our manager insulting questions and display their own stupidity and arrogance all the more.
The questions he has been asked over the course of this weekend show up the press for the small minded Peepul that they are, and the squealing of people like Levein has been going on all season, on issues great and small. It was no surprise that they found fault with Celtic today. It was no surprise that they bitched and moaned … they’ve been doing it since we went on our winning run and they weren’t about to stop because we’re champions.
And it used to infuriate me. It used to infuriate us all, and especially the boss. But as time has gone on I think we’ve all come to enjoy their pain a little bit, and especially on a day like this where their bitterness at Celtic is such that they can’t even enjoy their own moment in the sun whilst it lasts, before their stagecoach turns into a pumpkin again.
The thing that bothers them most of course is knowing that this club is at the beginning of something, that we have heights still to scale and for them that must be the most incredible, and awful, reversal of all … because they can all too readily imagine what Ange might do with another summer and another budget, and the continuation of his good work.
Yes, they hate it. Yes, it eats at their souls. We were supposed to be a fading power, a club on the wane, crashing down to earth from a decade of hubris and glory … and here we are, winning titles again and even pushing for trebles, and under a guy they dismissed as a joke.
So drink up guys, enjoy their anger and anguish. Sup at the well of their pain.
Bitter tears taste so sweet.