Ibrox has had a calm week, if you exclude the PR offensive on behalf of their board and the impact on their support of some bad news about the finances. We’ll get to that in a moment.
The reason for their good week has nothing to do with their club.
They’ve had a good week primarily because we lost our last game and we were embroiled in what they believed was a damaging controversy over the Queen’s tributes.
We never were in any danger over that, and it didn’t damage us one bit … still, they believed it and their fans have been in fine fettle for the last seven days as a result of our twin problems.
We were terrible last weekend. It is hard to imagine us playing that badly for a long time. We didn’t have a great start to last season but I think that’s our worst performance since Ange became the manager. Whatever went wrong, I am absolutely confident that it will be fixed.
We have started this season brilliantly.
We shouldn’t freak out over a bump in the road.
Celtic will be back strong. I know that our rivals would love to believe that the result is the one that proves that we’re not a good side. They would be crazy to believe it. The best teams on Earth have days like that. Even the greatest club side I’ve watched – the Barcelona team which swept all before it under Guardiola – lost games from time to time.
So Celtic will bounce back and Celtic will go on a long unbeaten run. I’m sure of it, because we’ve built the best squad of players in the country and have the best manager in the country, by far.
The things that made us strong keep us strong today.
Over at Ibrox, they narrowly got out of the Dundee Utd game with three points, and they weren’t even kidding themselves that it was a good performance.
Rather than continue to focus on their own deficiencies they are focussed on what they think ours are.
This is a classic error in judgement, and in strategic thinking. You see the enemy making mistakes and automatically assume that there will be more of them and greater as time goes on. And so your own problems get ignored until they swamp you.
Ibrox’s next league game is Hearts away. They have two matches against the giants of Anfield. It is not inconceivable that they will have a whole new set of problems by the time those games are done.
They don’t look in any fit state to conduct a multi-front challenge for honours.
Their squad’s weaknesses are glaring and obvious to all.
Before our game kicked off against St Mirren they were convinced that their club was in the midst of a genuine crisis. Nothing that has happened in the week since their game ended that significantly changes anything that is going on over there.
They continue to struggle for form. They continue to be consumed by internal strife.
Their fans have every reason to remain nervous about what the rest of this season holds.
Yet there is near universal euphoria over on their forums, as if we’ve been rocked back on our heels in the past seven days. I don’t know what they think they are watching.
Our financial results are a measure of our power. Theirs are going to be very interesting indeed. They should post a profit, but how much of one is a question a lot of us will be interested to see answered. It will be interesting to see if any of the money flows back into the pockets of the directors who carried the club through the last few years of losses.
Remember, they are in the midst of two very good financial years. Their reaching the Europa final, their selling of key players, their Champions League qualification … it all suggests that they might een post big numbers.
But these have been exceptional seasons by their standards, and we should not forget that. Their base level of earnings are way below what ours are without player sales and extended runs in Europe … I wonder how their fans have missed that.
Where is the value in their current squad?
Who is the next big name player they can punt for a big profit?
To get a good offer for a player he generally has to be under the age of 25 with at least two years of his contract left, and much of their squad is ageing or approaching the end of their deals.
That just leaves the Champions League Groups.
And that, as our own club realises, is a bad source of funding for a club to rely on. It’s leaving things in the lap of the Gods. Their own directors know this, which is precisely why they didn’t commit to spending more money in the summer.
It might have looked like a week of calm over there, but in point of fact it hasn’t been anything of the kind. That is a club desperately flailing.
Their directors are in firefighting mode, and in the process have inadvertently revealed stuff that they probably never wanted to come to light, like the story about the stadium roof, which I wrote about. They’ve also told a few home truths about the finances.
The manager is struggling to work out his next move.
Putting Lundstram at central defence didn’t keep the Italians out at Ibrox, and he dropped the tactic against United. Their fans aren’t impressed by his team selection decision making or his tactics.
The Ibrox operation remains a couple of bad results from crisis. They have been given a little breathing room by our defeat at St Mirren but nobody inside the club is kidding themselves about what it means.
They can’t rely on us slipping too often, and they know that they have bigger problems than our form anyway.