So many times, in the aftermath of big and important Celtic wins, I hear rival managers come on and refuse to give us credit. When they can blame a decision which went against them, I usually find it hilarious.
But that, from Martindale this afternoon, is the funniest yet.
He was complaining about a decision his own team got and which put us down to ten men.
Martindale sounded a lot today like a guy who has been embarrassed by a street magician and is standing there looking like a mug and wondering “How the Hell did he do that?”
The answer is simple enough; Rodgers utterly outclassed him this afternoon.
Listening to his head-scratching bafflement and wondering what he could have done differently or better was fantastically entertaining.
In truth, there was nothing he could do. When Rodgers is on his game, he can bend his resources, whatever they may be, into the shape of his choosing and leave rival managers struggling to keep up. Whatever Martindale had managed today, Brendan Rodgers would have been able to counter it. Like a great chess player, he’s always thinking moves ahead.
Seeing Martindale’s frustration, and hearing it evident in his voice, was as joyous to me as seeing Maeda rattle that third goal into the net this afternoon. It’s the icing on the cake on what has been a very good afternoon’s football, an afternoon when our team raised itself up although the critics were salivating and polishing up their doom forecasts when Hart went off.
But moments like those are when Rodgers is as his very best.
At Celtic last time, I remember hearing a player say that he had drilled the team for a scenario where we went down to ten men, and I thought that was fantastic.
Jonathon Wilson, in his brilliant Guardian Long Reads piece “The Devil & Jose Mourinho” – I’m linking to the audio version here which I cannot recommend highly enough – contains comments by a gobsmacked player who remembers Mourinho himself doing the self-same thing in a huge game, and bamboozling the opposition.
It’s part of an entire box of tricks that the truly elite managers can dip into almost at will.
Martindale doesn’t face those kinds of men every week, and he must feel whiplashed by the totality of the ownage that was on display in that 90 minutes.
He certainly looked and sounded that way when he spoke to Sky at full time.