I was amused, but not surprised, by stories in the papers last night about a little tiff on Radio Clyde the other night over who will be under the most pressure going into the semi-final. I wrote about this subject yesterday in relation to the cup draw.
That was the last thing they needed. They will build this match up to be their season defining game because it is. It does not matter how many league games they win between now and then or what The Mooch can post as his games-to-wins ratio … if they lose this then his tenure will already be called a failure, whether that’s fair or not.
If they lose it then all they have left is a long introduction to what might prove to be a shattering summer. But our season will not end whatever the result. If we win then the treble is on. If we don’t then we still have a title to tie up and all the focus will turn to that. Another double for Celtic will not be seen as a failure. Indeed, most of us will consider it a triumph.
It is massive to build on what we did last year, and the first trophy has gone to us and we look very much as if we will retain our title. The form of this team is off-the-charts good, and you can see that we’ve come on leaps and bounds. With the manager talking about how the revolution never ends, it’s evident that the summer will see the squad get even stronger.
And that means we’ve got a lot to look forward to next season as well. There will be other chances at the treble. Progress has been made. A treble would seal it, of course it would, but our manager will not be under threat nor the status of our club.
The Mooch will be under immense pressure if they lose a second cup tie to us, and finish the season with nothing. He could have gotten through something like that if he hadn’t talked trash all the way through his tenure so far about how it was unthinkable … he had in effect turned it into a must-win game. I’ll explore later on why it is already looming as one.
The media is going to try to heap the pressure onto Ange. That will not work. Ange does not feel that pressure the way others do, although he knows how big it would be for us if we could get to the final and set up the fairytale end to the season.
For once the purpose will not be to put a Celtic manager in an unwanted spotlight, it will be to keep an Ibrox manager, already targeted by some in his own support and under immense scrutiny, out of it. That will not work either, and in no small part because The Mooch himself is too stupid to deflect that pressure. In fact, he will invite it and heap ever more of it onto his team.
The futility of the media’s tactic is then obvious. Celtic will play without pressure and without fear, whereas their club will frame this as an existential moment, and as far as the credibility of the manager is concerned it might well be.