Two of Ibrox’s most important players will take the field tomorrow knowing that their contracts are running down in the next couple of months. Neither has signed a new deal with the club, and so any 50/50 challenge could be devastating for their careers.
They are critical footballers for the Ibrox club but nobody has yet given them the job security they crave. Offers from Ibrox are on the table, but are way below what the players and their agents were expecting to get. Glen Kamara and others will play knowing the club has been trying to flog them and that there were no takers. How exactly has that happened?
It’s happened because to a man, this Ibrox team is just not up to much. It’s happened because although they are better organised now and tend to get results they are grinding, getting back on reputations and their blue jersey, that and a little help from their friends in The Brotherhood, who showed their hand in the last league game against us.
If Celtic announced a fire sale of footballer’s tomorrow, how many do you think would go for mid to high seven figures? How many would go for eight figures? We would never have permitted so many players to be out of contract entirely at any one time, but if we had do you not think our guys would all have their career security sorted by now?
My point is simply this; we have better footballers, by far. We have a squad organised and drilled into Ange’s ideas and we have the domestic record to prove it. We have been magnificent this season, absolutely magnificent. That’s why we’re in a cup final and nine points clear in the league. We have proved this. We do not need to prove it at Hampden.
Cup finals are weird. They say that in a one-off game anything can happen, but the truth is that the best team wins these games time and time again and if you were being honest you would not hesitate to say that’s us. All the rest is hype and the puny attempts at psychological warfare will not make Tavernier and Barisic better defenders or Morelos less prone to losing his mind in big games or their midfielders any more capable.
It will not make Kyogo a less potent striker, or Maeda less of a menace or Abada and Jota less of a threat from out wide. All that talk does is sets people up for a fall. It will not change the way we play. It will not change the likely outcome of the match.
Do we have to be careful? Sure we do. And the prospect of “honest mistakes” playing a starring role is, I’m certain, something that leaves us all of us feeling cold at the thought. But let’s not get crazy here. If we show up and the players function as they can – as only they can in Scotland – then all the talk will be relegated to the garbage bin where it belongs and quality will decide the outcome. We just have more of it. More talent. More potential match-winners.
By this time tomorrow we’ll know who won the cup. That’s all. But the league table does not lie, and in this season it hasn’t even exaggerated as it is often wont to do. The media continues to kid itself that Beale has “closed the gap” but in fact he hasn’t. He’s made his side into a unit that can grind out results against most of the other teams in the league … and some of those clubs, like Aberdeen and Hibs are not exactly having a vintage season.
In terms of moving them
We are a better team. Comfortably. Easily. In every department of the pitch. A “best eleven” featuring the two teams and they would be lucky to get a couple of places on the bench. Every neutral agrees with this and it’s represented in the value of their squad, which is best summed up in their so-called best attacking force being out of contract in three months time and the only alleged interest is from Burnley.
I have total confidence in this team, in this squad, in this manager.
We are going to win tomorrow, but it will not settle the issue of who the best side is.
That issue is settled.