One of the great under-rated movies, one that sort of flew under the radar, is Election, from 1999, directed by Alexander Payne and starring Reece Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. It’s bitter, angry and very, very funny.
In the movie Witherspoon plays an aspiring student politician.
Broderick plays the teacher who has to supervise the race to become student body president.
When he finds out that she’s not the prim little miss she pretends to be (she’s having an affair with his mate, also a teacher) he decides to mess with her plans the best way that he can. He convinces a popular jock with no interest in student politics to run against her. In a roundabout way, that inspires the jock’s anarchist sister to throw her own name into the hat.
It’s the sister, Tammy, played with glee and gusto by the late Jessica Campbell, who steals the whole movie.
She is responsible for an election speech which gets her suspended and it’s then that she muses about the logic of threatening someone with a punishment which might not always act as a deterrent. “Being suspended is like getting a paid vacation. Why do they think it’s a punishment? It’s like your dog pees on the carpet and you give him a treat.”
It is tempting to feel that the media’s tactic in trying to unsettle Celtic’s harmony by threatening the possible sale of Liel Abada is a weird form of that, of holding over us a threat which might not actually be the worst thing in the world.
Because Abada is a fantastic, brilliant footballer and would only grow at Celtic Park.
But he’s also one of the guys Ange mostly brings on from the subs bench.
In short, we’re already learning to live without Liel Abada in the starting line-up.
This scenario which is so beloved by the media is like threatening Tammy with her “paid vacation.”
To haunt us with stories about how some club from England will hand us a cheque worth eight figures for a player who doesn’t play every week, no matter how talented, feels like a peculiarly weak tactic.
But it might even have worked except for one obvious flaw.
Celtic fans have seen two top players leave the club in January and their replacements have slotted right in.
There is nothing to fear from losing another or another couple even, just so long as we’re well compensated and the boss can turn his attention to spending the money.
If he’s backed with the cash, we’ll move on and get stronger still.
This is supposed to unsettle us. Of course it is.
But you know what? It won’t, because we’re too strong for that.
If we’ve decided to sell Abada I am betting that the work on replacing him is already 99% of the way done.
We know who our targets are and what their club expects us to pay. There might even have been discussions with the players already.
As I wrote earlier, this is a team constantly in flux, this is an evolution and evolution doesn’t stop. If we’re losing quality that only scares us if we’re not replacing it with quality.
And Ange warned us – I prefer now to think of it as “promised us” – that this would happen, and he talked to the media about it quite openly in a way that for obvious reasons they never seem to quote.
He told the press what his philosophy was.
You buy a £3 million player so you can sell him for a profit. With that you buy a £5 million player. With the profits from that you move up the ladder to the next step. And on and on and on until you have a team which can make the kind of impact in Europe you want. So not just replacing people with quality, but making every deal a step forward.
In light of those comments that’s what these stories are today, the media equivalent of threatening the likes of Tammy Metzler with a nice suspension in which she can ride her bike, indulge in her daydreams and ponder how good it might be to get expelled instead.
If Celtic continues to be run the way it is now we’re practically scare-proof.