In the aftermath of every bad performance – not a bad result, a bad performance – there is a small section of our fans which goes tonto and starts demanding the dropping of players, the changing of the system and even the sacking of the manager.
This is not a joke. You see this a lot. There are some mad people out there.
In the aftermath of Tuesday some of them made a lot of noise. My friends and family members sent me some of the more ridiculous tweets and comments. What surprised me was that there weren’t as many of them as I had thought there might be.
By and large, our fans have handled this bad result in a very calm, responsible and reasonable manner, and of course everyone inside the club is taking it the same way. You don’t see or hear any sign of panic. It is incredible to me, but Celtic fans by and large trust in the manager, in the players and in the process. And they are willing to be patient.
In some ways, this is remarkable. In other ways, I should be terribly surprised. The manager has done his bit to earn that trust and so have most of the players. There are a few voices being raised and crying of woe and doom, but they are in the small minority.
Ange radiates composure at a time like this. There are no knee-jerk responses from this man, but it’s more than that. Our fans are a lot smarter about this stuff than they used to be. They can see through the media’s version of events through to what’s actually happening on the pitch, and they recognise progress even when it’s not getting results.
There is a small minority who I do believe are spoiled, and it’s for them – and for others who might be interested – which led me to publish the first four parts of the Dark Days series. There are four more to go. I’ll do a couple today and the final two tomorrow, but I’m encouraged that most people seem to recognise both where we are and where we’ve been.
We aren’t where we wanted to be. We aren’t where many of us thought we would be, in terms of this Champions League group which I thought we had a fair chance of qualifying from. Not even making Europe after Christmas … we’ll take a fair hit from that if, indeed, that’s what transpires (as let’s be honest, looks highly likely.)
But you know what? This team will be back here on this stage next season, and ready for business. There is no doubt in mind about that. By the time they do return I think these players will be a lot readier for the challenges in front of them.
Because Ange will not let these guys lose heart or lose focus. He said it himself; this is still a work in progress, and you cannot – unfortunately – make it happen overnight. The board trusts him, the players trust him and most importantly the fans do too.
This has been an interesting couple of days, and not as discouraging as they might have been. There is still a feeling of calm around our club, with everyone realising that we’re at the foot of a very large mountain … but starting the climb. Progressing in the right direction.