It was Gary Player, amongst professional sportsmen, who first uttered the immortal phrase, “the harder I practice, the luckier I get.” When Arnold Palmer used it later, he did so in a snarking response to a journalist’s question.
But some say it was Thomas Jefferson, of all people, who gave birth to the phrase.
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it,” the American President is reputed to have said.
Whether that’s true or not, it is still recognised as wisdom today.
There are a lot of people who think we’re a lucky side.
But we’re not a lucky side.
To convince themselves that we are they have to ignore precedent, fact and the words of the manager, which isn’t easy to do when those words are now up on a wall at Celtic Park and even emblazoned across its frontage.
What do they think “we never stop” actually means?
To put it a slightly different way, it’s not a bug it’s a feature.
The precedents are obvious.
How many times, since Ange took over, did we concede a goal and then go up the park and score one?
Under the most intense pressure, in a cup final last season, we did exactly that when Hibs put the ball in the net and we swept up the park to sicken them. If you’ve got that trick in your box last minute winners come naturally.
When a team produces that trick as routinely as we do, how can anyone think it is luck? I think of it as just another aspect of what Ange is trying to do, and there’s a great example of it in the way we’ve learned to exploit the off-side trap. How many of our goals are cut backs inside the box, to a player who would otherwise not be onside?
Perhaps that is luck too.
But of course it’s not, that is drilled into this team, practiced endlessly, until it has become second nature for our forward players. Anyone who has watched us consistently knows that all this is the result of graft and dedication.
I’ve spoken to people who didn’t panic at the weekend but spent the two minutes between their second goal and our third almost waiting for it. Expecting it. They weren’t in the least bit rattled by the goal and it’s clear watching the players they weren’t either.
As I wrote at the weekend, I would not want us to rely on this sort of thing too often, but that we’re able to muster that sort of drive is incredible. The Ibrox sites who claim that this is why we’re top of the table are wide of the mark but not entirely wrong. How can they be when these late goals turn one point into three?
Where they are completely off with it is to call this luck.
Ange has instilled this in the team along with so many, many other things. We never stop. We play to the final whistle, and the 89 league table doesn’t win titles … but those late goals often do.