I haven’t re-watched the weekend’s game. Sometimes I can’t stomach it.
This is one of those times. So I am relying on what other people saw or thought they saw for my recollections. But when I read John Hartson the other day, I saw some of my own thoughts from the day of the game itself.
He’s got it right. We were far too passive during the game.
So what was the cause of that? What was that all about?
There are broadly two things going on here, I think, and they should offer some food for thought in the next campaign. The first is that our team is capable of rousing itself to superhuman efforts for the really big games which matter but that there is, overall, fatigue creeping in now. That’s only natural at the end of a long, arduous season.
There are certain players in the team who have just run themselves into the ground. Look at the likes of Maeda, who played a full domestic campaign and a World Cup. Look at Callum McGregor, who probably had his worst game of the season … he must be knackered. That boy is more in need of an extended break than any other player in the country.
Don’t forget, this happened to us towards the end of last season as well; you saw the legs go a little bit in the run up to the clinching the title. Don’t be surprised if some more points are dropped between now and then end, possibly at Easter Road.
There are players in this team who are out on their feet, but who can still pull it together when it matters.
Others haven’t played enough for us to see their full effectiveness.
But of course, there’s another reason and it’s an important one. Nobody at this club is going to run through walls with a cup final coming up. No-one should be expected to. This wasn’t complacency, this was people wanting to be ready for Hampden and the end of the season which we’ve all been waiting for and all deserve.
Passive. Big Hartson got right to the heart of it.
A team which played like nothing was at stake, which didn’t contest the 50/50’s with the same vigour as usual, a team which didn’t put itself in harm’s way for what was, at the end of the day, a dead rubber game.
Unless you count the bragging rights.
But our players know what they’re worth as well as we do.
Not a cup final place. Not a title. Not a trophy.