Yesterday, the Ibrox club needed a penalty kick and a set-piece goal to knock a second tier side out of the Scottish Cup. In the aftermath of the game the talk was all about what a good guy The Mooch was simply because he understood the basic precepts of sportsmanship; if you screw other teams over, don’t expect them to be kind when you’re on the other side.
Between that and the decisions in the match, where the media was happy to dispute the penalty they conceded so that they didn’t have to discuss the one they actually got – another example of framing the narrative, which I talked about yesterday – there wasn’t a whole lot of talking about the actual football being played in the match.
Oh there was praise for Tillman, and a growing imperative for the Ibrox club to find the money in the mattress to sign that guy on a permanent deal, but aside from that I thought their team was absolutely dire.
Their football is chronic. Compared to ours it is virtually unwatchable. I have not seen them turn in a single classy performance since this guy took over. For all the praise he gets on Ibrox social media, theirs is the kind of football that has people switching the telly to something else. His results look much better on paper than they do when you watch them play.
As I’ve said already, fans instinctively know when their team is on the brink of something bad. You can see it in the way they play, in the way they approach games, in the manner in which they are getting the points on the board.
This is a team which is only a bad result away from a downward spiral, and it will come and you wait and see; on the forums over there they will say what is blatantly obvious “this has been coming for a while now.” Because it has.
Other clubs have already sussed that they are vulnerable at the back. Whomever wants to have a go will give them a game. A good side, which we are, could very well give them a right good going over. I am looking forward to Hampden as a result.
At the moment they are getting results, and as long as a manager is getting results fans don’t’ really care if the football being played makes you want to gouge out your eyeballs, but nobody amongst that fan-base is kidding themselves that this team is all that much better than Van Bronckhorst’s side, or playing anywhere near as well as we are.
If I were in his shoes I would want to keep the conversation on anything else. This might be why he courts controversy so much, because if people had to focus on the way they are actually playing some of them might conclude that they’re just not that good.
It is not for nothing, on the other hand, that people wax lyrical about Celtic and our performances all the live long day. It’s not just that we are getting the results but the manner in which we’re doing it is extremely pleasing on the eye.
We don’t look vulnerable the way they do. We don’t look like dropping points at all. We’re flexing our muscle right now on and off the pitch. If we win at Hampden that club will have gone from a place where all seems right in the world to one where all the old self-doubts and loathing come flooding back.
Those doubts are already all there, in embryonic form. Their fans, the ones who have to watch that every week, know it.
We just need to turn the heat up on them.