Yesterday, Celtic Dealt The Death Blow To The Mooch And His Ibrox Delusion.

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Foreword; Since starting the Fear & Loathing series, I’ve been dying to do a piece in Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo style. So what you are about to read might not strictly stick to the facts – haha – but it won’t be fiction either. There’ll be a more serious article – the real Fear & Loathing piece – on yesterday and its full implications later.

Part One: The Empty Trophy Cabinet.

When you stand in the Ibrox trophy room and look over the recent history of the club, what sticks in your mind afterwards is the dust. It’s a good place to visit for a laugh these days, the ultimate symbol of a club living on past glories, and not even from their own past but wholly appropriated from another one. The guy on the door appears to know this; he sniggers when I tell him that the place is part museum and that soon that’s all it might represent.

Going down the hall afterwards, whistling The Celtic Song, I catch sight of a man sitting at a desk, huddling over piles of notes. He looks familiar so I rap on the door and he comes to it and peers out at me. “Oh it’s you,” he says. “Never thought I’d see you in here,” he tells me and I grin at him. “I could say the same about you Mr Mooch. But it won’t be for long.” He tells me to F off. He’s not the first Ibrox manager to do that and he won’t be the last.

I admit this freely; I will laugh out loud on the day that I hear that he’s been sacked. It’s coming too. Yesterday plunged his club into the kind of crisis that it might not fully emerge from in years. They have to back this guy with some sort of transfer kitty this summer, and as much of it as they can spare, but can he be trusted to deliver with it?

Some of their board don’t think so.

“I worry that we’ve hired an imbecile,” one told me.

Well, if that realisation is dawning on them late that’s their own hard lines.

The proof of it is already visible in that dusty room where, at the start of this campaign, they thought the league trophy would be.

In its place is a framed photo of Jota celebrating his goal.

I know that because I put it there myself.

Part Two: The Divided Dressing Room.

Ibrox’s dressing room is a divided place at the moment. Some of the players don’t like the manager. Others are loyal to him because they’ve known him for years. At the root of some of the problems are money; Cantwell is apparently on a ridiculous figure and the offer they’ve allegedly made to Butland is even more obscene.

Celtic keeps its financial secrets well, but it’s a known fact that we have various earnings tiers and only the most experienced and trusted players get to climb through them. Everyone at Parkhead knows this and what it means for their futures. Commitment and loyalty are rewarded. So too is success. The best will eventually earn the big bucks.

At Ibrox things work a little differently. They throw crazy money at players in the hope that those players will rise to the challenge. A Celtic director witheringly told me that “it’s a bit like handing out prizes before a race is run; there’s no genuine incentive to do well, to push yourself hard.” The state of their squad is a testament to that insanity.

You have guys like Roofe, sitting on the treatment table or in the stand, earning tens of thousands every week. “He’s eaten a bigger chunk of the budget than Morelos’ use of the free snack bar,” an Ibrox bean-counter told me in an email. It does more than bleed the club though. It breeds a strong resentment in players busting a gut for less.

And this situation is about to get much worse, of course, with a summer in which The Mooch clearly intends to shop in the bloated English market where even modestly talented players- the sort they can pick up for free in other words – are already earning fortunes. If reports about Butland are true, then the dressing room divisions over wages will only increase.

There are also questions over The Mooch and his tactics. His decision making during games has been poor at best. Some of their players harbour real doubts about him, and now that the veneer of invincibility has been ripped away with successive defeats those are only going to grow. He’s now talking about the “biggest rebuild in years”, after spending much of the campaign telling us that the squad was excellent and easily our equal.

“Where’s he getting the money for that?” Peter Lawwell asked mockingly. “That’s a lot of ten pences down the backs of a lot of sofas,” he said, as we laughed over brandy in the chairman’s office. There is an element of delusion about The Mooch’s grand plan, and the number of players he will need rises by the day. At the start he could have gotten away with a few tweaks … now he’s talking about replacing virtually the whole squad. “On Monopoly money maybe,” Lawwell said.

“I left him a perfectly good squad,” former boss Van Bronckhorst told me. “And a Scottish Cup,” I reminded him. What a state he’s made of things. Four games against Celtic and not one win, and this from the guy who boasted about “his record” against our club. That hasn’t impressed Steven Gerrard much. “He’s in trouble the next time he’s on Merseyside,” he told me. I inquired as to whether this was something he intended to handle himself, or was it a task he would palm off to one of his gangster mates? He too told me to F off. C’est la vie.

Part Three: Doubts And Delusions On The Forums

Over on the forums, there is plenty of anger, and even rage. It rampages through there like Morelos in a Greggs. Right now a lot of them are going through something that only occasionally happens to football fans; the realisation that in many ways they actually hate their club and dearly wish that they could set aside watching it for time being.

But they can’t of course. Because of a little scam called MyGers, which keeps them chained to their season tickets and their other purchases forevermore. What that means, of course, is not difficult for even their thickest supporters to understand.

“I’m starting to think,” one said, “that we’re going to end up paying for this rebuild he’s talking about.” Which is as close to sanity as anything being said over there, because who else do others amongst that support believe will be picking up the tab?

Ibrox fans have drifted along on this cloud for too long now, forever convinced that there will always be money to spend, because someone will keep writing cheques. “It won’t be me,” Dave King told me on a Zoom call from South Africa. “I’m declaring zero income this year, and I can’t do that and spend fortunes funding these fantasies at the same time.”

They still cling to certain straws, and still think there are little signs of hope. Look at the after-match reactions in the media to yesterday; Keith Jackson seems to think Raskin and Cantwell were dominant. “Are you on the bottle again?” I asked him over the phone, with the unmistakable sounds of a busy pub in the background.

But on the forums, much the same is being said; Raskin and Cantwell are the current Great White Hopes, or Great White Hypes if you want to put it that way, and in a sense it’s easy to understand why.

To admit that these guys aren’t exactly lighting up the pitch is to admit that maybe things aren’t necessarily going to be better next season at all.

The challenges facing them are absolutely enormous.

Those amongst their support who have grasped that are genuinely afraid of what the summer might bring. They still believe that the club needs gutting out from top to bottom, and there is a growing sense that nobody is coming to drop a pile of money in their laps for it.

The idea that Celtic might extend the gap, that we might pile dominance on top of more dominance, is hard for Ibrox fans to take, but it’s a reality that many of them are finally making a long delayed adjustment to.

That they exist in a sea of others who will simply not believe that guarantees that amongst the many issues at Ibrox next season will be a civil war in the fan-base as fantasy collides with reality in a big, big way.

There are obvious parallels with what The Mooch is trying to do and what the man who brought some of their current squad to the club in the first place did; Mark Warburton also thought it was wise to shop in the English market, bringing up here a lot of hyped footballers who were nowhere near the required standard to challenge for titles and trophies.

Some of their fans have grasped this and recognised the pattern.

Warburton himself probably does, but when I asked him about he told me to F off.

Part Four: Fear And Loathing At Hampden.

Yesterday was the day that the doomsday clock started for The Mooch. Deep down, he probably recognises it. One of the things that should haunt him is that he’s actually done rather well in the job with the squad at his disposal, and that breaking that squad up doesn’t necessarily mean things are going to get better for them.

Look at the guys they are trying to replace. Probably the best keeper in their history. Their top scorer ever in European competition. The winger they paid £7 million for and who was supposed to be good enough to represent England. It doesn’t matter that he isn’t and wasn’t and never would be. These are huge holes to leave in the team.

And the proof of that was that he was still selecting these guys yesterday, although the writing is surely on the wall for them.

What seems obvious is that the size of the job has only just started to dawn on him with the last few games against us. He knows he can’t trust the core of the team, but there is a fine balance at any club between changing the squad and getting results and he’s no longer in the honeymoon period where a new manager has a chance to get his ideas across and bed in his team.

He looked haunted at the end of yesterday’s game, a guy who has given up trying to find solutions with the tools he has to hand.

That should worry every Ibrox fan who watched the game and who heard him speak afterwards.

The truth is that he’s facing an enormous challenge and with very little money to spend, and so there’s a very high probability that the worst, as far as The Mooch is concerned, is still in front of him and them.

It’s clear enough that their squad is nowhere near good enough to go head to head with ours over the course of a campaign, but every penny he spends in improving one area of it is money he doesn’t have to improve the rest.

He talks like a guy with tens of millions to spend and that’s really not the case at all, and would you anyway trust a manager who thinks that every problem should be solved by opening the cheque book?

Theirs is a club which can feel its power draining away.

All the optimism they felt after “55” has evaporated, and that season is being seen for the mind-bending one off that it was.

If the treble is secured this season we will have won 17 of the last 21 trophies on offer. Four trebles in a row, followed by that one weird year, then a double and a treble again.

“It’s hard to argue with the maths,” King confirmed to me, like a man being confronted by the tax authorities. I badgered him for a solid hour, but he refused to say whether he backed The Mooch remaining in the hot-seat if he starts next season badly.

I saved my last call for the last Ibrox boss who gave us this much early amusement, and I asked Pedro if he had any advice for The Mooch, in case he finds himself standing outside a European hotel addressing the fans from the bushes.

“Oh why don’t you just F off, Forrest,” he said to me.

He won’t be the last either.

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  • Jimmy R says:

    I love that style.
    Reminds me of the time I went to an old mate’s birthday party. The deluded old sod still supports the ibrox club, so it was no surprise when the birthday cake appeared and it was an excellent replica of the stadium John Brown played for.
    My mate said to me. “I take it you’ll no be wanting any.”
    I said I did, but as I was on a diet I would just have the trophy room. . . .

  • harold shand says:

    Phoney Beale mania has bitten the dust

  • John says:

    Look at the players he has brought in. None off them have set the heather on fire. Would you trust this guy with your money.

    Freebies out of the championship or league one. Rumour is Fleck is on his way on a free. Will not be cheap. Will be on a decent wage at Sheff Utd. Plus he could get a better salary at a Championship club?

  • Johnno says:

    Surprised at you James not picking up on the real truth upon this snidey prick now.
    This is an arsehole who has done nothing but try and claim a title success, that wasn’t his to and one that we handed them to keep them in there miserable existence still.
    Yet this snidey prick stands alone now as being the brain’s behind losing treble trebles to us now.
    Of course he can turn to his even bigger leaders in the serial losers camp in tavpen, Goldshit and his hard man Croatian with the added bonus of pinky and perky able to join them all in the serial losers ranks now.
    So the real question still remains as to how such a thick gobshite can turn such serial losers into winner’s, especially as we will continue to move forward and go from strength to strength especially as we now have much bigger fish to fry within European football than looking back at them poisoned tiddlers been fried alive within there own frying pan now, and not long now till it sets fire and burns the very small house down yet again.
    Treble trebles for the snidey prick

  • Eldraco says:


  • Voice of Reason says:

    The FILTH will continue tae IMPLODE whilst the Knuckodraggaz form an Orderly queue at the Erskine Bridge lol! Couldy happen tae a NICER bunch ae Fukin SCUM WHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • JimRaTim says:

    James. Apologies I did not realize the shamrocks would print as question marks. Dohhhhhh Can you delete them please. Thanks again.

  • jrm63 says:

    Yesterday was the worst result for Beale – he either needed to win or lose heavily. After a heavy defeat from Rangers Martin O’Neil told the board to get used to it and he got Lennon

  • king murdy says:

    off piste as they say……
    the video of cantwell denying water to hatate tells me all i need to know about this snidey kunt of a player….and this petty, cheap klub as a whole….
    what a disgusting act…..and hardly a mention in the press….apart from big sutton….

    • Stesano says:

      I bet this same clown shoe if playing for his championship team in England wouldn’t do that! So that tells you he and likes of luneball! Are being taught to hate you saw it in their illegal follow through tackles also and ref did f&&K all they like to say they ref this game different why?! Play the f$#k rules! Cause that only ever suited one team the ” hammer throwers”!Even at our goal he wasnt giving us that blatant foul but that went well eh ha ha That cespit tho always taught playersto hate it’s always been thus! Tho comes out more when we are totally owning them as we did oldco! Scum does what scum does sheer poison top to bottom! Anyway another TREBLE incoming! CELTRICBRATIONS!

  • Frankie says:

    Totally agree king Murdy these players come from the other side of the world and show decency towards other people, at this arse comes from a few mile down the road and shows how ignorant he is like his club.

  • Pat McIntyre says:

    I think you had fun writing this piece! Your analytics have power in them! Dissecting with clarity the loosers of yesterdays match. The difference being that they are used to the ref. stopping play usually for their benefit. They thought that they could catch their breath and switched off. But Maeda (what a player) was sharp to cross the ball so perfect that one of the smallest players in our team, Jota didn’t even have to jump to header the ball past, the hopeless McGregor, into the net. Leaving Tavernier and co as rooted spectators.

  • Puppa Shango says:

    Oh I am reading this over and over on the train back to Scotland and the other passengers are avoiding sitting near me as they do but know why I am blowing up with laughter for close to an hour
    Superb piece James
    You’re genius
    Anytime I feel off I shall read this piece to out that smile on my face again
    Thank you bud

  • JimBhoy says:

    Pressure will be on Beale for the CL games, if he blowas his £5m budget on dross and they dont get the group stages I think the board will bin him.

    £5m and a bunch of players in who cant cut it elsewhere or have the treatment tables on their backs. While the Celts bring in some quality at the expense of the sale of their fringe players.

    That rangers trophy room will be an empty place for many years to come.

  • king murdy says:

    excellent article james…..very funny…..

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