The events of the year 2020 are well known to all of us. The eruption of anger at Celtic Park over the appalling downward spiral of what should have been the ten in a row season had many roots, not least of which was a simmering mistrust of the board of directors who many of us see as having allowed our club to be cheated, and most of whom have been there too long.
Lennon should never have been hired. I have never known such a profound downer on what should have been a day of celebration as we all experienced that day when it was announced that our board had given him the job on a permanent basis. It left deep scars. It cast real doubt over those people and their judgement. That’s what boiled over in 2020.
When temperatures are running high like that there is always a chance that something irrevocable could happen. You hope not. In our case, the car-park flare up was as bad as it got. Things are already much, much worse at Ibrox.
John Carver, the assistant manager of Scotland, was at Ibrox last weekend and he described horrendous scenes which the media has tried to play down. But what he described was sufficiently ugly to be of concern to more than just neutrals visiting that ground.
““I couldn’t wait to get out because they were coming over the top of the directors’ box,” said Carver on Tuesday. “Normally I leave before the end of games to get back down the road but because I was staying up here, I stayed. Walking out there were disgruntled fans trying to come through the front doors as well. It was a difficult situation. But it was interesting seeing the atmosphere.”
That is uglier, by far, than anything that happened at Celtic. There is a chance that something could happen here which is so bad that even their fans feel nothing but shame looking back on it.
Today there are rumours that The Mooch has quit or been sacked; this is because he’s removed the club from his social media settings. If I were him, I might be tempted to just ditch social media altogether, because he’s received torrents of abuse on it, and not just people telling him to leave but genuinely hateful stuff about his family.
For losing a couple of football matches.
That stuff is just wrong, plain and simple, and it doesn’t matter what they tell themselves.
Theirs is a support prone to grotesque over-reaction, even when they have something to celebrate. Theirs is a fan base which is mired in ugliness and wallowing in hate.
Earlier in the week I had a good laugh at the assertions on one of their fan media outlets that we were “in control of the rulebook.”
But even amidst my laughter at such claims there is always a thread of disquiet, because I know full well that this is not normal behaviour. In fact, there’s even a clinical name for that kind of thinking; it is called persecutory delusion and it’s not a small thing. In fact, it’s a serious condition which can have tremendously adverse effects.
Those who suffer from it are likely to be found in the bottom 2% – the bottom 2% folks – on the emotional well-being charts. Those who suffer from it are at the highest risk of acting on those thoughts of any other group suffering from delusional thinking. It is extremely difficult to treat, and it is resistant to nearly every form of non-drug intervention except for intensive cognitive behavioural therapy. It is incredibly hard to achieve a breakthrough.
That’s just one of the various types of insanity which you can see on the loose every day over on their forums.
Most of the time their aggression and anger is turned on us.
It manifests itself most clearly in their obsession with the child abuse case, and their contention – an almost universal one, which is incredible to consider – that the state has “protected Celtic” in the past and continues to. This is coupled with the belief that the media has “ignored this issue” or “swept it under the carpet” presumably because Celtic Park is still standing.
But there have been court cases beyond counting. The law has been changed to enable the victims to seek redress years after the events took place. Another change in the law has given them the ability to pursue damages, even as part of a “class action.” The newspapers have devoted acres of space to this subject, and it’s been mentioned in government reports. Still, they believe that this remains some dark secret that it is their duty to alert the world to.
These are the sort of people, and this is the sort of mentality, which holds the manager’s future in its grip. Completely divorced from reality. Permanently angry. Clinically paranoid. These are the Peepul their club panders to over and over again.
They have no idea how crazy it makes them look, or how intolerant. We always talk about those clubs south of the border which sack managers with grim regularity; since they crawled out of the grave of Rangers in 2012, the current Ibrox club has had the following managers; Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowell, Stuart McCall, Mark Warburton, Graeme Murty, Pedro Caixinha, Jimmy Nicoll, Steven Gerrard, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst and The Mooch himself.
Ten bosses. In just over a decade.
Even accounting for the fact that four of them – McDowell, McCall, Murty and Nicholl – were stand-ins that’s a new manager every two years. The average shelf-life of an Ibrox boss is around 18 months, if he’s lucky, and a few of them didn’t get near that.
This is in no small part because their fan-base is prone to losing its mind and their directors will never not give them exactly what they want, when they want it.
How do you attract a big name to a club which behaves like this, and where the fans behave like this? If The Mooch gets sacked, or simply has enough of the abuse and quits, what if he sits in front of the media and describes how poisonous the atmosphere around Ibrox is at the present time? What does that do to their search for a new boss?
It’s a toxic job, at a club which either can’t or won’t free itself from the lunatic fringe. The last week has been eye-opening even for those of us who’ve been watching that club and its travails for years. I have rarely seen them so unanimous … or bitter in their hatred for people inside the walls of their own club. And it’s disturbing, and its dangerous.
But mostly for them. They cannot see themselves the way the rest of the world can – or maybe they just don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. But they should.
It is part of the reason they continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over again.