Ange always does his best when talking to our media to be as genial and nice as he can be, but they do not make it easy for him to do that. Because he’s dealing, here, for most of the time with people who simply aren’t our friends, and they are too stupid to hide that.
Last season, when Kyogo got injured, the hacks tried to make it into a crisis. They are doing so again now with the injury to Cameron Carter Vickers. Are we a better team when the big lad is in the side? Without a shadow of a doubt, yes we are.
But we’re no more a one-man team here than we were in the last campaign. I think we need a new centre half in the summer; that much is probably clear to the manager himself. But we don’t need it because none of the rest of them are good enough. He’s the better player of the group, and we want someone on his level to partner him up.
This side is perfectly capable of getting results without him. The switch-off in the last few weeks was nothing to do with his not being in the side. We’ve been out of sorts for a few weeks, and he played in several of those games. This side isn’t as focussed as it should be because we’re now confirmed as champions. This was always going to happen.
Tired narratives like this one are the result of our having a journalistic class which is incapable of thinking in more than one dimension. Ange was scathing when quizzed on this at the weekend, and it’s another example of this guy having to deal with people who are far below his intellectual level. He studies the game for a living … they write gossip.
So of course they cannot properly analyse where we’re going wrong at the moment. But the boss knew, and he pointed out the facts.
“I guarantee you, 1000 per cent, it’s not just one player,” he said. “It’s nothing to do with Cameron Carter-Vickers. We have missed Cameron Carter-Vickers for games before. We have played Champions League football without Cameron Carter-Vickers. So that’s the easy thing to look at. We are not working as hard off the ball as we were prior to winning the title. That’s what happens.”
That’s the easy thing to look at, he said. Which is code for that it’s the lazy, stunted explanation for the simple minded – which means everyone in our press corps just about. Ange’s own description of where we are going wrong – not working hard enough off the ball – is much closer to the mark, and was clear at Ibrox where big Hartson described us as “passive.”
Passive is right. The players were not covering every blade of grass like they had been when there were still important points to put on the board. We might be able to excuse that and understand it, but that doesn’t mean that we have to like it and it’s pretty clear that the big man doesn’t like it one little bit. But he’s not going to rake anyone out over it.
I am comforted to know that he has identified the issue, and that he dismisses out of hand the idea that without Carter Vickers that we’re essentially sunk. The idea is nonsensical.
So too is the idea that this squad, which most of us acknowledge the strength of, isn’t as good as the manager thinks that it is. The people making that judgement simply are not qualified to give it, and especially the likes of Keevins and his braindead Clyde panel.