Celtic And Our Rivals Are Getting An Important Lesson: For Many, Perception Is Reality.

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I have little doubt that there are people inside Parkhead and Ibrox right now who are pulling out their hair at the unfairness of life and the way that they are portrayed. Ibrox has little to complain about, but they believe they are the most put-upon people in football at the best of times and right now sure as Hell isn’t that for them.

They probably thought they had done rather well this time last week. They had deflected attention away from their dire performance at Celtic Park, where we outplayed them, and that the media would be forced to cover their anger and rewrite the narrative of the game into one where they may have gotten a result but for bad decisions by officials.

A week on, it’s clear that most in the media have turned on them. The disgust over their tactics has reached a crescendo. They are just stupid enough to wonder how this happened. After all, the press was going right along with them and then all of a sudden everything changed. They might think they are entitled to feel a little bit piqued.

Yesterday, I wrote about how most of the clubs are appalled at their behaviour and that it has wrecked any goodwill that might have existed in relation to them. They might think they are just misunderstood, that people have gotten the wrong end of the stick. We haven’t, of course, but if we have then that’s their own damned fault.

At Celtic Park, there is similar disbelief and perhaps confusion. Why does our club get such bad press from the bloggers? Aren’t we top of the league with players coming back to fitness and others starting to find their feet? Aren’t we in good shape?

But fans are focussed on this transfer window, and there is a general feeling that it is a critical moment for Mark Lawwell.

The summer is widely regarded as a disaster, although there are a handful of our sites which are determined to reframe it in light of recent performances from guys like Bernardo and Nawrocki. I’m afraid I’m not swallowing that. It is crystal clear that the window was not one which prioritised the manager’s needs and that makes it a disgrace no matter that some of the signings look like they have something to offer.

People inside our club probably don’t think that this is a fair assessment, or that Lawwell junior should be under such pressure. They deserve this every bit as much as the club from Ibrox does. Fans aren’t any stupider than those who run the clubs, although we are frequently treated as though we are. But we know what we’re watching from Celtic.

But imagine we’re wrong? Does that change anything? No. And like I said, the club deserves everything it gets for the way the board runs it.

Both the Glasgow clubs are getting a lesson in one of the most frustrating things in political activism and public relations; perception is reality. Is it fair? No, it’s the way things work and because it’s the way things work smart organisations do everything they can to combat negative perception lest that becomes the thing that people associate with it.

At Ibrox, their board has spent years creating the perception of a club run on anger, hatred and paranoia. Their behaviour has been so crazy and rabid over the years that for a lot of people every press release out of there reads like a dispatch from an asylum. Fair? In some cases, probably not, but when you look at the overall tone they’ve set it’s not difficult to understand why people automatically think the worst of them.

This past week has hardened that perception. It is now reality for most people. As I said last night, the damage they have done will take years to repair because now they are the club which tried to set its lunatic fringe on a referee, and did so using the “plausible deniability” of a fan outlet. They didn’t reckon with the SFA publicly confirming that those conversations took place and that Ibrox had behaved in an underhanded and wholly reckless fashion.

Ibrox has simply confirmed the perception that already existed. When you want to change the way people look at you, you do so by changing your behaviour and maintaining that new outlook for as long as it takes for people to start seeing you differently. But it only takes one slip to send you back to zero, because when you are fighting a negative perception, it is critical that you do nothing that reinforces it, and they’ve spent the last week doing that.

When Celtic hired Mark Lawwell, we had come out of two of the best transfer windows this club has ever seen, with every player slotting into the first team seamlessly. Ange’s first season was an utter triumph. His hiring brought back bad memories of transfer windows which degenerated into a shambles and where the club aimed as low as it could.

When his father was appointed chairman, that was even worse. The fear was that we were heading right back to the days of the manager being cut out of the transfer process and signings being forced on him. We were back to the days of dragging our feet and haggling over pennies. A father and son team whose appointments cast us back to the days of the White’s and Kelly’s and reeked not only of nepotism but of an overweening arrogance.

Rodgers came in and immediately a lot of people wondered how that work, and whether or not fruitful partnerships would flourish this time around instead of splits in the camp and the boss and those above him operating at cross purposes.

All those in charge had to do was not act in a way that confirmed those fears. To listen to the manager, to seek his input, to structure transfer policy around him. Instead, they reinforced the perception many of us have of them as control freaks obsessed with their own status and perfectly happy to work directly against the manager if that’s what imposing their own ideas meant.

The hiring of Lawwell junior in the first place was bad. His father returning as chairman suggested that we were going back to the way of doing things that had caused Rodgers to quit last time. Instead of changing that perception their actions have solidified it.

And it doesn’t matter what’s true and what’s not because people look and what they see is a nearly identical scenario to the last time Rodgers was at Parkhead. We know that this is not how the transfer policy was being run in those first two windows under Ange; things changed the moment Lawwell junior got his gig and not for the better.

That’s why this window has become critical. The case against Lawwell junior’s appointment is mounting up and few will care to listen to anything the club or its mouthpieces have to say if it turns out that this is another let-down. People will rightly ask what in Gods name this guy is doing for his salary, and why in God’s name Desmond allows this farce.

He knows as well as anyone what perception versus reality means; everyone in business knows that you are only as good as people think you are, and that it doesn’t take much to shatter confidence even when you’ve got a good store of it.

The only way to change perception is to change the way you do things, or at least to do it a hell of a lot better. So when the manager speaks up in the media about wanting quality in this window that is what these people have to deliver, this is their penance for not delivering it in the summer. If they feel under pressure, it’s only that they created for themselves.

It doesn’t matter if this criticism is fair. They probably look at the coverage of the summer in the blogs and in the mainstream media and think it is a great injustice. But this perception started the day the board gave a gig to the former CEO’s son and if they had wanted benefit of the doubt, if they had wanted time and patience, they should have picked someone else.

As with Ibrox this is a self-inflicted wound. Unlike Ibrox, they can still repair the damage. They have three weeks, but it’ll go fast, and they damn well need to get it right.

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  • Eldra o says:

    The summer window was utter shite and this one is shaping up as a bad case of the runs i cant spell diarrhea so used runs, i can but couldnt be arsed ( see what i did there).

    Anyhoo, i cant see any improvement coming and runs should be used for the lawells when getting them out of CFC.

  • Paddybhoy67 says:

    I’m not optimistic, James. The Board’s perceptions are not ours. Remember this: “It’s not by chance or by luck that we’re viewed as one one of the best run football clubs in Europe, if not the world.” P Lawwell.
    But, I’d love to be proven wrong.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Can’t help but notice similarities here with Mark Lawwell and Chris Whyte. That pussy from the whyte-kelly days, who was actually only interested in ‘badminton’ and ‘rowing’ and just sat there grinnin all the time. Wtf was he actually ‘doin’ on that board ?? Just nepotism end of and whether they’re qualified or not, doesnae come intae it. Somebody tae pass the baton on to, tae keep the family ‘prosperous’ at the Celtic supporters expense. This yins no lookin much different so far.

  • SSMPM says:

    Pretty spot on assessment of how both sides of the city are run. The rankers, even more so than the auld club, are led by their bitter orange order staunchness through the medium of anger. They expect the fear from that lodge impacting anger to ensure society knows and falls into place.
    Our board and the Lawwell effect expect our fans to accept the financially healthy model over footballing success over and above this league.
    Their fans have deteriorated in their behaviour and the lodge acceptance model. Ours are more focussed and want more football related style and the potential of improved success on the field.
    The focus of both should be the industry we’re in as our fans recognise. Football. HH

  • Pan says:

    Spot on again James.
    I have no faith in either Lawwell.

  • Johnny Green says:

    There were a few positives from the last transfer window, it wasn’t a total disaster, and for me the biggest positive was getting rid of Starfelt and not losing too much on the deal. That was surely a blessing in disguise. I also like a few of our acquisitions and can see a return on our money for them. That of course should not be the sole reason for buying them, we do need better quality, and we need more talented individuals who can be game changers. Hopefully we will get that in the next couple of weeks. As things stand, I am quietly optimistic.

  • Magua says:

    Until Peter Lawwell, and his equally incompetent, unqualified offspring, are removed from Celtic Park, we are going nowhere. The plan, if indeed there is one, seems to to be to remain a step or two in front of the Huns. Of course, this can backfire. It has before. Not that any of the Masonic Huns on the PLC board would care. Europe is where it’s at. We would already have blown the Huns out of the water. If the desire was there.

    Hail Hail.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Our club is doing ‘OK’ – despite the Board.

    Our club could – and should – be doing ‘great’ – with a different Board.

    But, the nagging perception / reality is that

    the supporters want the club [& business] to show more ambition,

    whereas the risk averse Board remains rigidly focused on delivering their

    short-term, financial targets – and earning those generous salaries & bonuses?

  • Danny.C says:

    If you think that B.Rogers has no input on who’s coming in and who’s going he wouldn’t have come back.B.R.will have final say on all ins and out
    He will know what he wants and he will personally talk to the player’s that are interested in coming to celtic.
    Then it’s all down to the money
    Men at both club’s and agents.

  • Roonsa says:

    It is very probable that Dermot Desmond is orchestrating this from behind the scenes. He wants a return on his “investment” and he’ll make sure the right people are put in place to facilitate that. As you say, we should be happy – we’re top of the league and everything is fine. OK – we didn’t do anything in the Champions League again but we’ve secured the money that will keep his bank manager happy.

    Football today is not about the glory of actually winning stuff. Not for the likes of Celtic anyway. It’s all about operating as a viable business and the way for Celtic to do that involves a complicated formula that results in keeping the huns close but not too close. It’s about buying players with sell on values. It’s about doing just enough to stop the fans from going over the top. And they know full well that’s never too far away as was demonstrated when Lennon’s reign as Celtic manager was circling the plughole.

    If we throw away the League this season then they shouldn’t be too surprised at the backlash. Because it’s primed, that’s plain for all to see.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Not quite pressing the panic button yet but as I write this it’s literally 9 hours, and 20 minutes until the month is into double figures (ie.10th January)…

    C’mon Celtic – or really C’mon Sonny Lawwell (and Daddy Lawwell) and get the finger out and get Brendan HIS quality sinings and NOT you’re project pish ones –

    That is – If you’re not your fingers are not otherwise engaged in some wank fest over an ‘exciting O#d F#rm title race’ !

  • Pat says:

    This window is key to see exactly what sway, if any, Rodgers has on signings.

    Not holding my breath. We should have been identifying players to come in months ago. The fact no-one has signed yet suggests the usual policy from a board that waits till the last minute to lowball a player to throw at the fans as a sop to appease them

  • Michael McCartney says:

    January is always a tricky transfer window,the only successful January window I can remember is Anges’ 1st season when we signed Hatate,Maeda and O’Riley. I still have the frustrations from Lawwell pissing about and failure to sign McGinn, there is no way he should have any input regarding our recruitment. I agree that it is not a good situation having a father and son combination in positions of such influence at Celtic.
    As regards who we sign this month, I’m not expecting many signings. It is hard to bring in so called quality signings in January within our budget and is available. We have reasonable cover in defence, Maybe cover for Taylor is required although Scales could cover there, especially with the number of CB’s now available. The midfield with Bernardo hitting form and Hatate coming back looks covered, Obviously a striker as back up is a priority but I think a loan deal is what we can expect.
    To me unless our scouting dept have spotted a diamond who is available and in the market we operate in, then there is no sense in bringing in anybody who isn’t any better than we have at the moment.
    The time to get the business done quickly is in June not August or September, That’s when I’ll judge Lawwell Jnr.

  • John Copeland says:

    You and I know that Celtic FC notoriously slumbered throughout previous transfer windows … Most business was done on the last hours of the last day . Then big Ange arrived and his business was done weeks in advance . I think it’s safe to say that you don’t have to be a grandchild of Albert Einstein himself to notice that we are back to the inept transfer practices pre Ange which are about as useful and helpful as a trap door in a canoe ….

  • Edward McCandless says:

    Rodger’s is 52. Years of Age he’s already scampered out the door claiming he never signed 27 players ( 24 )
    Duds who couldn’t claim a first team jersey.

    I couldn’t imagine
    Willie Maley
    Big Jock
    Martin O’Neill
    Big Billy
    Running out The door On the verge of Treble Treble
    Absolutely unforgivable he should’ve never be considered of letting in Front door. AGAIN

    He’s the only Person under pressure at Paradise. He’s signed one load of shite again..

    For a guy who allegedly is on £3 million a year is laughable. I shudder the shite he brings in this month.

    Bet you’re money on the First player to be replaced will be ..KYOGO.

  • Johnno says:

    Sorry James as much as I don’t mind a bit of lawwell bashing, as I would prefer that name not associated with the club whatsoever?
    But sadly it is, so fair enough to make junior the scapegoat ( great at doing that within our club) and staying in the problems and blaming someone for them, and all without looking at the potential solutions to the problems?
    Expected a bit better from yourself James, especially with being a fine analyst, even outside of football, upon knowledge on a fair number of matters.
    So let’s do reality, for the time being and maybe address the problems that success has bought ourselves currently?
    We remain only a development club within the bigger picture of CL football, and trying to operate with the level of 1st and 2nd choice player’s in each position, still way to big?
    Believe Rodgers wants to reduce that gap with this quality statement, yet hampered by the 8 scottish homegrown rule that exists?
    Will give Rodgers credit for trying to address the problem, where Ange just ran away from it, and wasn’t even interested in addressing it within the SPFL before he left and injuries starting to impact ourselves at the end of last season?
    Not every one of Ange signings was a success, and the same is following suit yet again under Rodgers now?
    This policy has to change now within the club, especially as we can still attract players easily enough, but once they sign it isn’t so easy to offload if they aren’t a success with ourselves, as the player’s opportunities decrease in turn of wages and clubs interested within them also?
    We are also currently entering another phase within our development process within the bigger picture of potential CL football also imo?
    When you look at the value of what each potential starting players are actually worth within the transfer market now, then trying to bring in players worth similar value, just isn’t going to happen, simple as that?
    Yet we label them as projects, which in turn is just a ridiculous statement from a development club in the bigger picture of European football imo?
    Yet its going unnoticed mainly that strides have been taken with the potential value invested within Palma and rocki and hopefully Paulo is added to the list also?
    Personally believe Iwata is a decent player of value also currently.
    So the midfield isn’t to bad, and still the Turnbull issue has to be resolved, so would replacing him with another Scottish player be a potential solution to a problem, and if so who?
    Holm needs to improve physically, but still wouldn’t write him off just yet either.
    Agreed with yourself James that another striker would be of great value to ourselves, so potentially another Maeda type of player who looks more comfortable upon the right than Maeda and could also do a job through the middle would be my preference currently, especially with the balance still not right within the wider areas for ourselves still, especially down our right hand side imo?
    Yet how much is prepared to be paid for such a player, and all without any form of guaranteed starting position on offer for them, which goes against ourselves attracting these so called ready made quality players, Rodgers is claiming to be wanting?
    Defensively is OK in the RB and CH position imo currently, and could be bolstered further with lawal returning in the summer also, maybe another homegrown player to add for ourselves in the making?
    The LB position still remains an ongoing issue and maybe not as easy to resolve as we would like either imo?
    Why? Because couldn’t Taylor be possibly in the running for a Scotland squad place at the euros in the summer?
    The general feeling is the majority of our support want an upgrade upon Taylor?
    Which I believe is fair enough imo, but what could be the potential consequences?
    Ralston would be my favourite as sub upon the bench as full back cover in a match day squad, so potentially Taylor coming back into a bit of form, to being excluded from a fully fit match day squad?
    Not the easiest decision Rodgers currently finds himself having to make, and even more so when he tends to want to get so pally with his players by all accounts?
    The only decision we do know of so far is that Hart and Bain look like staying as 1st and 2nd choice keepers for the remainder of the season?
    Take it that’s the decision of Rodgers, yet both out of contract in the summer, and big Ben seemingly looking to move on also?
    A bit concerning that no forward planning seems to be taking place within that area within the team either?
    Surely there must be a Scottish homegrown keeper available of better quality than Bain somewhere, and terrible to think that we seem to be struggling to get any potential keeper coming through the academy still?
    As a club, especially where we are as a club upon the bigger picture of European football, while still at development level, there has to be a focus upon improving that standing.
    This will only be achieved by a proper working relationship between lawwell and Rodgers, as currently we still continue to waste to much money without direction as such imo?
    Now personally don’t trust any lawwell within our club?
    But Rodgers isn’t squeaky clean either, especially as I don’t totally trust Rodgers decision making either yet, as far to many questionable decisions taken by himself during match days for my liking to date imo?
    So for the club to prosper, then the relationship between lawwell junior and Rodgers has to be rock solid with both upon the same page and all for the good of our club, not only in the shorter term but the overall bigger picture also?
    With 2 men given such a role within the club currently, that I’m not totally convinced that either can be fully trusted, it remains a bit concerning at present imo.
    However I’m still not buying into this nonsense that we are anywhere near as poorly as to many are trying to make out either?
    Rodgers has talked enough about consistency, would like to see him starting to change that approach also upon his decision making also?
    Rodgers playing the blame game and getting support in doing so, won’t resolve nothing either?
    Big decisions still need to be made during January and still remain optimistic that the 2 responsible for making them will get them right, even if I don’t trust either of them fully either
    Sorry for the long response James but felt a bit of reality was actually called for more so than getting caught up in playing the blame game which holds no benefit to the club whatsoever imo

  • Robert Downey says:

    When Ange was in charge the transfer business was completed in the first week of the windows, now Lawwell snr. is back I can envisage us scrambling about at the last minute as before.
    There will not be the same quality about at that stage and quality is what the team needs and the manager has asked for.
    BIGGEST SINGLE MISTAKE WAS BRINGING LAWWELL SNR.BACK this is definitely not forward thinking.
    If we fail to win the championship this season then the fault can be laid firmly at the door of LAWWELL SNR.

  • green manalishi says:

    This is one of the most despicable headlines I’ve seen for a long time from a very low base that sits just below the gutter already- this Stephen McGowan character is lower than a snakes belly, an absolute degenerate trying to stir up as much shit among Celtic football club as he can. Deplorable.

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