During the independence referendum of 2014, we had a term for the behaviour of those people born in Scotland who went on TV or gave interviews to the papers where they trotted out all that “too wee, too poor, too stupid” crap. We called it The Cringe.
The Cringe is a deep feeling of shame or embarrassment at the nation you hail from, and for the duration of that campaign you could see it everywhere.
The reason I bring this up today is that Scottish sports journalists developed The Cringe many years before that, possibly with the birth of the EPL, and they have never gotten over it. They have never judged the game they cover based on its own merits – and it has a great many merits – but by the standards of England. And it embarrasses them.
Their conduct embarrasses me. The way they constantly run down Scottish football is an utter disgrace in those who are supposed to promote it. There’s only so many times you can read the same dire stories, over and over again, talking our game down and telling us that we can’t retain our best managers and players without feeling ill.
The real Cringe for these desperate hacks is that their papers hire out of the bottom drawer. These are not people – the Jackson’s, the Jack’s, the Pirie’s – who are ever going to get jobs writing down in England. They won’t work anywhere talent and skill are requirements.
Which brings me to today’s latest episode of The Cringe; the suggestion that Ange Postecoglou might trade up Champions League football, winning things and being at the centre of the most exciting Scottish football revolution in years to go to Brighton.
The story is a joke. It shouldn’t even need to be pointed out that it’s a joke. Brighton is not a serious football town. It has a club, yes, but let’s be honest, when you think of Brighton what comes to mind? (No not that, some of you. Tut tut.) It’s a blue rinse destination. For retirees who want to sit by the seaside. It is – and no pun intended folks – a graveyard for football bosses.
Ange Postecoglou did not build his reputation over all these years to flog it down there. He has, as he’s said repeatedly, everything he wants at Celtic Park.
But there are some of our hacks who do believe – because they are in the grip of The Cringe – that Ange might very well do it “because it’s England.” As if that place had magical properties. As if the word itself had magical connotations.
As I said in a piece last week, Celtic’s concern about this possibility can be surmised from their not having already sat Ange down and talked a new deal with him. That will happen, of course it will, because he deserves it to. But he’s content and we’re content with things as they stand right now and nobody is thinking about a day when that changes.
Those hacks in the grip of The Cringe point at Rodgers and Gerrard as their proofs. Forget for a moment that Ange isn’t temperamentally like either man. Rodgers and Gerrard both left, in part, because they felt they weren’t being given enough backing for their grand visions.
Rodgers had always wanted a return to England, where his ego would be fed constantly. (Shame it hasn’t turned out that way haha.) Gerrard always saw Ibrox as a stepping stone to Anfield. (A prospect I thought was slim at the time and is even slimmer now.)
Ange has what he wants. A club where he is the undisputed master. A fan-base which loves him. A board which has backed him like no other manager in the history of our club. That’s something that these people are not even giving consideration to.
The Cringe is all of this, of course. Some of these people are professional Celtic-haters and are simply playing a wee game of trying to unsettle people. Mostly the fans, since nobody inside Parkhead’s halls takes any of this remotely seriously.
I love the stories today that Ange is “on Brighton’s shortlist.” Cause we could all do this. Who would be on your own shortlist? I’d have Anabelle Wallis and Sophie Turner on mine … I’m never likely to get anywhere with either, but it’s a nice exercise in day dreaming.
Brighton can make all the “in a perfect world” lists that they like. Some in the media can Cringe for Scotland. Others can attempt to stir the soup. Not one bit of it impacts on anything going on at Celtic. The club is settled. The manager is happy.
And we’re preparing, through all the white noise, for a massive midweek game. Some have called all this speculation the product of a “slow news day.” But it’s a mixture of our media’s inferiority complex and that of the Sevconians who realise they won’t be competitive whilst the big guy is at the helm of this club.