By close of business today we might well know who is likely to make up our central defence when the match kicks off tomorrow night. The fear many people have is that it will be the one that lined up at the weekend.
If it is, those guys will need support.
If this game was at Celtic Park I would be more worried than I am with it being in Germany.
At Celtic Park the crowd’s nervousness about these guys might tell, and that would not do them or the team any good. We’ve become very intolerant of perceived failure, and I use that word very deliberately. The truth is, a lot of our fans – in keeping with the fans of every club – have no idea how to properly analyse players and what they contribute to the team.
This time last year, a lot of people had already written off Giakoumakis and Starfelt, and they weren’t listening to those of us who said all these guys needed was time to settle in and find their feet.
A lot of fans don’t think in those terms.
It’s all very simple from their vantage point.
Mistakes don’t get made by just any player, so if you make more than one in a game you’re a diddy and it doesn’t matter if the Celtic manager disagrees.
But imagine the boo-bhoys had gotten their way; we would not, right now, be seeing the best of Greg Taylor who I’ve long argued is mainly guilty of not being called Kieran Tierney.
This would not be Ange’s starting defensive partnership if everyone was fit, but he rates these guys good enough to be in the squad, knowing an eventuality such as this might come up. He sees their quality, and we should trust that.
More than anything else, these guys need the support of the people in the stands. That will help their confidence.
I don’t know how many players actually read social media; I know a lot of managers discourage their footballers from doing it. If I played the game professionally I would stay off all of it and protect my sanity from the worst excesses of it.
Some, however, will be drawn to it the way many people are, even people who find its content harmful.
And I dread to think what those guys must think at times.
Measured criticism is fine.
Personal abuse and bile are not, and that’s what so much of it descends into. I would not like to be a player in this current team falling foul of some of our unrulier online element, because it would hard to read and harder still to forget about on a Saturday.
Carter Vickers and Starfelt will be back soon and fit, and that will give us our full complement of defensive options again. Until we do, these are the guys who will be playing in the Hoops and I see no sense whatsoever in making their lives harder than they need to be.
We have to get behind these guys, and give them all the backing we can.
And yes, that’s going to mean some of online critics moderating their tone somewhat.
I don’t know what function they think it serves to torch our own players … leave that to our enemies, who are more than willing to take that particular job on. We should know better.