This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were not meant to win this title, far less stand poised on the edge of another treble. The stars had aligned for Ibrox. This is what we were told. Their so-called “55” triumph was supposed to crush us, and – as King put it- collapse us like a house of cards. Has anyone ever gotten something so completely wrong?
From the moment Neil Lennon left, this club has performed. The board may not have gotten the deal over the line, but that we went for Howe, who is showing English football what he can do and what he could have done for us, at Newcastle is a sure sign that people at Parkhead had realised that we had to snap out of our lethargy.
The appointment of Ange might have been rushed, and even carried a trace of panic, but once the board made the decision they went all-in on it. They backed him like they’ve never backed a Celtic boss before. The club flexed its considerable muscle and between that and the optimism generated by the boss, very soon got back on its feet.
The football has been exhilarating.
From the first domestic home triumph, where a new superstar, Kyogo Furuhashi, showed his quality until the win at Hampden just last week, this has been a wild, wild ride and we’re not nearly done with it yet.
Across the city, their club has begun to fragment. Key figures head for the hills, men who’ve had enough of the spotlight and being in the crosshairs, or victims of an internal putsch; we still don’t know and it couldn’t be less important. They are a mess.
Celtic has the kind of stability the fans over there must envy. Did we do everything right?
There is still a whiff of cronyism when you look at our board and the internal workings of the club, but the thing is, we know these people and they know each other and at the moment they are getting the big and important decisions absolutely right.
Outside of Celtic Park, nobody thought we would be here.
Last season ended not with our final day win but with the Ibrox club lifting the Scottish Cup and then going to play in the Europa League Final. Their fans, reeling at the loss of the league title, were able to take it because they believed that Van Bronckhorst had worked the miracle and made them a credible European force. The media was overjoyed.
They predicted that the title race would go to the wire.
Many of them tipped the Ibrox club to spend fortunes and rip it from our hands. They were, after all, part of the continental elite and we had done what exactly? Fluked a domestic trophy or two?
When it became clear that we were just not going to fold, that we were, in fact, emerging into the new season even stronger than last, they panicked. Van Bronckhorst was quickly dispatched after their European run of the previous year was exposed for the lottery winners luck that it had been, and league form appeared to have collapsed.
In the interim, VAR – which was not supposed to be implemented until towards the end of the campaign – was rushed into service, and almost at once the nonsense started. Have we had a major decision go our way yet, in a manner that changed a game? Have the Ibrox club been the victims yet of anything like what we initially had to endure?
Their club continues an incredible record for not conceding penalties in the league. In domestic football entire they have conceded one – to Partick Thistle – in the whole of this campaign. We have been plagued by inexplicable decisions all the way through.
On top of that, the media has been constant in its attempts to unsettle players and even the manager himself. The embarrassing spectacle of them rushing to link him with every job in England which becomes available has been astonishing and ghastly to behold. The destabilisation campaign would still be ongoing if he hadn’t knocked it on the head.
I think it’s fair to say that between them – Ibrox, the media and the governing bodies – they’ve thrown the kitchen sink at us this season and it has done them not the least bit of good. This is a Celtic side which simply endures, which simply powers through, which simply excels and overcomes no matter what obstacles are put in our way.
That’s why we should enjoy today because we earned this, this club of ours. It’s not just that we’re on the brink of the treble but this is title 53, leaving us just two short of the Lie. By the time this campaign ends we’ll be a mere two trophies behind their much vaunted “history” – even accounting for their nonsensical belief in the “relegation.”
We’re going to do it.
Not just today – that’s a given – but we’re going to smash the Lie to smithereens by making it irrelevant and we’re going to do it in the next couple of seasons. Celtic is on the up and up and we did this, all of us, not just the boss and the players but you and me and the rest of the supporters … this triumph belongs to us all.
So go out and enjoy it my brothers and sisters in Celtic, and I’ll see you on the other side of it.