Yesterday Ange sat in front of the media for the first time in two weeks, and he made sure that he had his say on some of the dire coverage this team has been getting in the past fortnight, and indeed for the whole of the season so far.
Ange always handles these conferences well, and he pays the utmost respect even to those who do not deserve it. All the way through this campaign he has been the target of snarking, bitchy remarks which those who make them are at pains to claim are not meant to show disrespect. But he knows exactly what they are all about.
He’s well aware of what all this guff about the finance gap is really about. He knows exactly what the snarks from Ibrox about him being “lucky” are all about too. The constant grinding narrative that Celtic is expected to win things and the suggestion that our run of form is something other than exceptional must be frustrating for him to listen to.
And yesterday he responded to it.
“Every manager is allowed to use their platform in any way they want and say what they want. I don’t think it’s accidental that the words lucky and easy are used,” he said. “They aren’t words I would use to describe any manager.”
This goes without saying. Ange has never behaved in such a boorish manner towards anyone in the game here in Scotland. His respect for other people is one of the reasons he is so widely respected, even by those who wish they didn’t have to.
“If you are in this job, irrespective of anything, the one thing you know is that it’s not easy,” he said. “If people think I come in here at midday, spend a couple of hours, have a cappuccino and then go home to the family, then they are kidding themselves on. I think they know that, but the use of those words is probably deliberate. That’s fine. If that is what people believe, they are allowed to do that. What I know is that within this building, nothing comes easy for us.”
He then commented on the nature of pressure.
It is one of the things that pisses me off most, this idea that we just show up and win. We are under immense scrutiny, all the time, and this manager and these players handle that absolutely brilliantly.
“We need to work hard and there are a lot of expectations on the players and the staff every day. That’s what we do. Whether that impresses others or doesn’t, the only thing we care about is our supporters. And they are pretty happy with how we are going … we are playing under huge pressure every week. If other people think that’s easy in some way, then that’s their opinion.”
That is the most direct Ange has been yet in taking these critics on and telling them in plain and simple terms that he knows what they are up to. I think he’s been sitting on that for a while, and I’ll tell you, it must have felt good to say it.
It certainly felt good to read those comments last night.