As ever with our rivals, their best times come when we’re having our worst. It often seems to me that they get more satisfaction out of our failures than they do out of their own successes, as fleeting as those often are.
When they won their solitary league title, most of the pleasure they drew from it was based on depriving us of our tenth in a row. The last two years have been gravy for them; a league and a Scottish Cup. We take such things as a matter of routine.
They enjoyed that last night. They enjoyed it more than they did the night before, a result and a performance which showed how bad they actually are and how weak their manager is. They have a big set of problems. And they are fixated on us.
Before this season began, we knew that we were trying to scale Everest in the Champions League. We knew it was going to be one Hell of a steep climb. And although we got a “favourable” draw, only a fool believes that such a thing exists in this competition.
We were not the ones riding high on a delusional that a Europa League final appearance had turned us into a global football giant. Europe was supposed to be trembling with fear. Now it merely trembles with laughter.
They are sniggering at us. The rest of the continent is pissing itself laughing at them.
Ajax console themselves after a bad start with the belief that they will at the very least be competing in the Europa League after Xmas. Napoli talks about how many goals it will slam past the hapless Ibrox team when it gets them over to Italy. Liverpool, who have played in the best stadiums, against the best sides, at the top of the game, consistently, for years now, are supposed to fear a trip to Ibrox? I think not. They are probably relishing it.
I know this; neither Leipzig or Shakhtar will come to Celtic Park feeling that kind of confidence. They will not be looking forward to that at all. I still think we’ve got a pretty good chance of doing something in this group. Seven points is certainly not beyond us.
We are a team still finding its feet at this level. Ibrox believed they belonged there. Their fans have had the rudest awakening any side has on the continent in years, and some of us warned them that this was coming and reminded them of how long it had been since they faced genuine European giants, sides capable of holding their own amongst the elite. Their fans aren’t so much shell-shocked as they are labouring under a new delusion.
Their hubris has resulted in a stunning come-down. They are nowhere near as good as they thought they were, and their only consolation is that we’ve not proved to be as good as we thought that we might be. They are idiots. This is another proof of that.
They have nothing to laugh at. Whilst I firmly expect us to get to our seven point goal, and guarantee Europa League football after Christmas at the very least, I do believe that they are in serious danger of joining the group of clubs who finished on nil points.
From a European final to such ignominy in the space of a mere few months. The truth is, they were always closer to a place in that fraternity than they were to the top table. They are laughing at their only folly in believing otherwise. They are laughing at themselves.