In the week before the cup final, the papers were filled every day with the country’s other on-form side banging on about how they were going to beat us. Their players, their manager, all were totally convinced that they would get the result.
I can understand that. Their entire club is steeped in supremacy. They were on a long unbeaten run. They were entitled to a little bit of that confidence. It was when it veered into arrogance, that and deep, deep delusion, that we all got angry.
I always want to beat an Ibrox club, but that one was especially sweet because it was preceded by that week of ego-driven nonsense. But I understood in no small part where that attitude came from. It’s who they are, and you have to give them their due; they genuinely do believe that they are the biggest club in the county, all evidence to the contrary.
Hearts are lucky they are presently marginally better than Hibs and Aberdeen. Both of those clubs are an in an appalling state and badly need a good shake. When they get stability and decent management I suspect Hearts will be in bother.
I have barely seen a team which talks so much about what it’s going to do to us only to come up short again and again and again. What’s more, we never get credit when we prove that we’re just far too good for them. The old “always cheated never defeated” mantra could have been made for Tynecastle. Hibs have Sunshine On Leith; Warren Zevon’s Poor Poor Pitiful Me could have been written for this club which always has a hard luck story.
I know there is a perception that our club is conceited. I prefer the term “confident” myself, but even if it was true, even if we were a monument to self-regard, surely we’ve earned it, by God? Surely we are good for it, having the achievements which go some way towards justifying it? What have Hearts done lately? Where’s their success story?
Neilson has won nothing. His record against us is piss poor. It’s even worse against the club from Ibrox, but that’s what you expect when a manager never turns up against that club. We will not get the easy treatment today but I don’t expect it to matter.
They can’t put men behind the ball and try and hold out because it’s a cup tie. They have to have a go, and that will play into our hands somewhat. All the time-wasting won’t help them because we have the squad to cope if the match goes into extra time and they don’t … it’s advantage Celtic either way, and that’s why I expect we’ll win.
And although it won’t be part of our motivation – we don’t need additional motivation, the will to win, for its own sake, for our own success – is enough, I still expect there to be a stab of satisfaction at beating a side that doesn’t know when to shut up.