Earlier in the week, I wrote about how if the Ibrox club had not already cancelled the Australian trip that they would have to, and I invoked the spectre of Vercingetorix, the King of the Gauls, who fought Caesar and lost and was paraded through Rome as a war trophy. I said that would be Giovanni Van Bronckhorst if he had led his team to Sydney.
But of course, they had already cancelled, and they’d done so before we were ever champions. It was as if someone over there saw the writing on the wall. That, and the fact that they were terrified of the reaction of their own supporters.
How nice it was, then, of Sky Sports to produce for us the equivalent of that prisoner being dragged in chains through the streets for our edification. How great it is for all of us that they decided to put on the proverbial “dancing bear” (pun definitely intended) show for us this weekend with the “One Year Special” on the Ibrox boss.
It reminds me of that fine Sopranos moment when Tony tells Melfi, his shrink, the story of Jimmy Smash, the kid who used to hang out with them, the one who had the lisp, and how whenever they wanted cheering up they’d make him sing Mack The Knife. Years later, Tony is lamenting those days due to an experience with a bunch of well-to-do doctors who, in a sense, treated him the same way, as a freak, as an outsider, as a source of amusement.
The highlights which Sky has already made available show a guy sitting in the front of the cameras trying to put a good face on a year that has been nearly disastrous. Sure, they won a Scottish Cup and they got to the final of the Europa League, but Celtic won the prize that mattered and their European form collapsed in devastating (and hilarious) fashion.
Those clips show a guy who is in total denial about where he is and what’s going on around him, and yes, sure, the clips were probably filmed weeks ago, before the gap at the top was the nine points that it is right now and perhaps even before they had that humiliation in the Champions League confirmed for them in savage fashion … but it’s not a good look, and him talking about how much he’s enjoying it all is grim viewing for its intended audience, the Ibrox fans who were supposed to lap it up.
Instead, only Celtic fans are properly enjoying the spectacle.
For Ibrox fans it feels very much like the hailing of a clown instead of a hero, as if we were watching a special on what a great leader Nero was, shot partly from the scene of the fire and then, afterwards, from inside the Domus Aurea, the Golden House, the vast palace he built for himself on the wreckage as the people of Rome went without.
The online response has been almost universally positive … from our supporters anyway. Their fans see it as an affront, and as part of the club’s PR strategy to sell to them the idea of keeping him around. It’s not going so well.
The general feeling is that even though this was largely done before the league race collapsed on them that the club could, and should, have had it pulled from the schedule.
But for once I think we’re all pretty chuffed with Sky Sports Scotland and its Ibrox leanings. We couldn’t have delivered a more pointed insult to their fans if the Unseen Hand controlled the budget over there.