There is something vaguely hysterical about the Ibrox fans even at the best of times, and these are certainly not the best of times for them or for their club with Celtic sitting atop the league and showing no signs of letting up in the quest for another title.
Much of the fury is focussed on the manager. This is the man they hailed as a hero when he got them to a European final not six months ago. Amongst his many fans were ex-Ibrox players who said that they were sure he had Ange figured out.
Nobody is singing that song now, and instead he’s in the crosshairs.
There was a fascinating, and funny, story in The Guardian during the week about the Captain America actor Chris Evans, who has just gone public and admitted that he is in a relationship. In one of the most cringy acts I’ve ever heard of, one of his “fans” sent an open letter to him over Twitter, and tried to get People Magazine to publish it.
In this ridiculous screed the writer – who has a massive 29 followers but managed 1300 likes and 7000 retweets – poured out her, and other fans’ – anger at the news. Amongst the many ludicrous statements was the idea that “your Fandom is not upset because you’re in a relationship, rather, it was the reveal of the relationship that made us feel betrayed by you. We feel betrayed by the Chris you lead us to believe is you.”
I mean, Jesus wept, right? It’s the entitlement of it which blows your mind, and it’s the same sense of entitlement you find on the Ibrox fan forums pretty much all the time these days, over everything. The funny thing is, they’ve spent the last week screaming for an answer from the club on the position of the manager. Well now they have one.
Obviously it isn’t the one they wanted. After briefing some of the papers during the week that he was going nowhere, they confirmed that today with a journalist at the BBC. It seems incredible, but they really are standing by their man. What’s more, the BBC journalist who spoke to people said that every one of them at the club is supporting him.
Every single one of them. It’s a united front.
As remarkable as I find that, I am amused by the anger on the forums and the lack of direction for it. There is talk of protests and demos and marching on Ibrox, but it is all from the kind of armchair warriors you just know are never going to do anything.
The AGM is seen, by many, as the point at which they can express their rage. But you know what? I’ve heard it before. There have been Ibrox AGM’s held in worse conditions than this and they usually go off without a hitch. I don’t believe this will be any different.
The standard refrain from the Ibrox fans is that they are the most loyal in the world. They brag on how they filled stadiums on “the journey” as if they don’t realise that this is music to the ears of any board which decides to scale back investment in the team.
We know this from bitter experience.
Prior to the collapse of Rangers, they won three titles and in a row and every one of those Celtic AGM’s was trailed beforehand as a do-or-die encounter between furious shareholders and a club that had lost its way.
All of them were pitifully tame affairs. They got off, in some ways, in that the Lennon AGM had no fans at it … but still, I doubt that they would have been put under any real pressure. Neither will the one across town.
There are ways to move a board. Withholding money is one of them.
But their directors already have much of that for this season and talk of boycotting the Leverkusen friendly isn’t going to get it done.
The only time that ours was genuinely shaken during the Lennon year was when fans protested the team after the League Cup disgrace. That disturbed people inside Celtic, and although they played tough to the media they were really rattled.
I’m not advocating that any more than I was then; I understood, though, why fans who had been completely shut out of the process were furious. Our club, to its immense credit, changed that when it introduced the fan media schemes which have been an excellent way of giving the supporters a chance to question the powers-that-be.
Our club learned from the mistakes of that year, and the fans feel as if they have a voice which is taken seriously now. That has benefited everyone at the club. There is next to no chance of that with their fans; even the main shareholder’s organisation has turned on them, and the “official media partners” want the manager shown the door.
Chris Evans’ wailing fan summed up her angry feelings perhaps best with this killer line. “It is the rude awakening that our belief in you is based on nothing but lies that you’ve been selling us … It’s like a kid finding out that Santa isn’t real.”
That must sound so, so, so familiar to the Ibrox supporters who this time last year believed in their club, its sporting director and the manager … what a difference a year makes.
The relationship between their club and its fans is irretrievably breaking down. Even talk of the transfer window in January brings no succour; the best thing our board did was make it clear that the end was in sight when they didn’t give Lennon money.
Their directors seem to be readying to back this guy, this guy who has already presided over the squandering of what little they did have to spend. That’s not all his fault of course – blame for some of it lies with Ross Wilson. But a stronger boss would not tolerate having players foisted on him, and would fight for control of his own destiny.
Ibrox fans, likewise, face a fight for the destiny of their club. I bet they do nothing. Why do I think so? Because as good as they are at protesting others, and demonising those who offer even the slightest criticism of their club, they are hopeless at doing anything which moves it down a different path. Ibrox fans will do as they always do.
They will hope that some white knight comes to the rescue, and those with enough sense should be dead scared that the Americans are still waiting in the wings.
This is precisely the time when vultures like these are best positioned to strike.