Last month, I did a piece on generals fighting the last war. That rings far truer now. The Ibrox operation has geared itself up to build a certain team to play a certain way against a certain Celtic manager. The thing is, that manager is no longer in the job and they have no idea – none of us do yet – who is going to take the reins next at our club.
But it will be different. The next guy will have his own ideas and his own tactics and his own little surprises in store. A good tactical manager will eat The Mooch for dinner. He is supremely confident that his team will have our number next season, based on a series of performances he seemed indecently pleased with in spite of losing all but one, and that single win in particular. That was a performance and a result that looked bad enough at the time … knowing what we do now about a manager who probably had at least one foot out the door it becomes worse.
But all his confidence was based on games against a manager who is no longer in the equation and it is hard to imagine anyone who watched the games between the two sides who will not conclude that our midfield perhaps needs at least one iron man in it; The Mooch has never taken into account the idea that we might yet marry our flair with players who are as hard as nails … and that will negate whatever ideas he has in his stupid head. This is the stuff of his worst nightmares.
This is why I laughed yesterday at screaming headlines about how he would not fear anyone and how their team would be “a different animal.” The stupidity of that boast lies in its plain refusal to recognise what is blindingly obvious; by virtue of the circumstances in which we’ve unexpectedly found ourselves we are going to be a different animal too.
One of the things we talked about in relation to the summer was that as good as this squad is that there is not a position in it where we could not, if the will and the finances were there, go out and find a better footballer. Even Kyogo has his equal, or better, out there somewhere within our price range and especially if he goes for some monster fee.
The thing with any manager is that he will have his favourites; a new manager will evaluate everything with a fresh, and critical, eye and whilst I don’t expect a whole bunch of changes I think the ones we get could come in surprising areas and pop a few eyeballs.
As I said previously, I get excited whenever a new manager comes to our club because it shakes up the place and leaves opposition managers – who might have figured things out – completely stunned and back at square one again. This is a crucial advantage we have here and whilst we wouldn’t have sought it deliberately it is the one that we have to press home.
The Ibrox war machine, that creaking thing that is being assembled by a manager who must already feel whiplashed, was designed and is being built to fight the last war, the one against the Celtic of Ange Postecoglou.
With no idea who is about to arrive at Celtic, he cannot be anywhere near as confident as his toadies in the media think … unless he’s also stupider than we thought.