For a couple of weeks now, I was looking forward to today in total confidence. Total confidence. Some people asked me, in the past week, how confident I was because this blog has not been as bombastic in tone as it was at times last season.
The answer was simple, really. I was so supremely sure that we would win this one, and win it comfortably, that I didn’t feel any great need to broadcast it. Most Celtic fans I know were of exactly the same mind. I would have been preaching to the choir.
Oddly, the people whose opinions I found most interesting were those who were quite willing, this past month, to deny the evidence of their own eyes, which showed a Celtic team that is massively improved from last season when we won the double, just as the manager’s career history has demonstrated and just as his biggest and most vocal fans right from the start promised the rest of us that it would be. They were right.
Tonight not a single one of them can continue to kid themselves that this is not a team built to do exceptional things, and with the talent to pull that off. As an attacking force we are so obviously better than any of our domestic competition.
Some people still think the real test is Europe, and we’ll very soon find out where we are on that front. Whilst it would be good to shut them up they’ve spent so long comparing us to the exploits of Ibrox on that arena that today must feel like a seismic shock to them. To those of us who have watched Celtic lately it was anything but.
Our next game is against Real Madrid. I suspect we’re going to learn a few things on Tuesday night, and I imagine we’ll see a further demonstration of progress at this club. Regardless of whether we do or not, I’ve ever believed that a club must focus – primarily, and as its main goal – dominance in the domestic sphere.
So tonight we sit five points clear of them and 17 goals better off in addition. Read that one again and try and wrap your brain around it. After six games in the league we are 17 goals better off than they are. That’s worth as much as another point, yes, but it’s also a deadly example of how far ahead of them we are just in its own terms.
Their goal difference of plus seven after six sounds nice. But ours is plus 24 … a stunning statistic for this early in a campaign. It threatens records. It threatens more than that though. It threatens the stability of our rivals, and threatens to establish another long spell of domestic dominance from our club.
To be honest, I don’t know how they can stop it.