Celtic Must Avoid The Kind Of Hubris That Has Led To Embarrassment Across The City.

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Earlier on, I wrote about Lawwell and how he should be removed from his role as chairman, all the better for this club to move on. I was thinking, afterwards, about the standard argument which is deployed against us whenever we’ve made a “Lawwell signing” and I realised that there’s an analogy I wanted to deploy and had forgotten; when it came to writing this piece, I thought that it might fit in nicely with the overall theme here.

There is an old Chinese proverb which goes something like this; a farmer and his son own a horse on which their business depends. One day it runs away. The neighbour comes over and says “That’s awfully bad luck about the horse.” The farmer shakes his head and says “It’s toon soon to tell, we’ll see.” So, a day later, the horse comes back … only three other horses have followed it. So instead of one horse he now has four. The neighbour comes back over and says “Well done on the horses! That’s tremendous.” The farmer shakes his head and says “It’s too soon to tell, we’ll see.” A few days later, the farmer’s son is trying to tame one of the horses, and as it resists him, he falls off and breaks his leg and his arm. The neighbour comes rushing over “Oh dear! Your poor son! What bad luck!” The farmer shakes his head and says, “Too soon to tell, we’ll see.” A few days after that, the army comes riding through town looking to recruit all the able-bodied kids for their latest war, and they get to the farmhouse, check out the son and leave without him because he’s not fit to fight. The neighbour comes rushing back over. “What great news about your son! You must be so relieved.” The farmer looks at him, shakes his head and says, “We’ll see. It’s too soon to tell.”

And that’s what life is like as a Celtic fan sometimes. If we’re taking the long-term view (which is really what the proverb is about) we can’t judge anything on its immediate impact. We always have to be looking a little further down the track. As I said, this is the argument that is deployed against those of us who have criticised the summer business; “we’ll see, it’s too soon to tell.” Which will be a lot of consolation to us if we lose this title, that these guys might, at some point, prove to have been worth the money after all.

But in the here and now, most of them have contributed nothing, and their impact on this race can easily be gauged and judged. The question we still have to ask ourselves is this; has it had the kind of impact which costs us the title?

Last night, the Ibrox club dropped points for the third consecutive game; it is clear that they are in a bad place right now, with players off form and others so deep in their own heads that they can barely see straight. Which is to say nothing for the tremendous mess their manager is getting himself into with those increasingly deranged press statements.

That’s perfect. That’s where we want them. That’s how any club would want a rival to be in a close title race which is entering its latter stages. Too good to be true in some ways.

So, is the title ours? “We’ll see. Too early to tell.”

And if we do win the title, is next season all mapped out in front of us, and putting us on the right footing for the future? “Too early to tell. We’ll see.”

The truth is, our own form has been so patchy that we can’t take anything to the bank. One game at a time is as far ahead as we should be aiming to look. It is definitely too early to tell if we’ll be champions, although there are just five league games left.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m confident. Very. I have been for many months, since Rodgers changed the style and released Kyogo all over again. I think we will be celebrating a double.

But the league won’t properly be decided until they leave Celtic Park on the back of a shattering loss. If that happens, we’re champions as we’d need to lose both the remaining matches and they’d have to overturn the goal difference into the bargain.

They are looking out on their feet, but we aren’t looking too clever ourselves at times. The first half display against St Mirren was a warning as to what can still go wrong, and whilst we redeemed ourselves in the second, we’d have all preferred to see a more even performance where we dominated for the whole of the match instead of blowing them away in 45 minutes.

Say we win the league? What then? Everything’s golden with the club, right? We can start looking forward to next season and the Champions League in its bizarre new format. Good, eah? Except … maybe. “Too early to tell. We’ll see.”

There’s an obvious risk here. It’s that Rodgers wins this title, the board looks at the squad and decides that he is a miracle worker who can buy on a limited budget outside of what we bring in for sales. That would weaken the team further before he could do the actual work of making it stronger. Frustratingly, I think this is a very real prospect.

The risk with these guys is always that they want a manager to do more with less. Every high value player is at risk of being shipped out and replaced with a project, and the better a Celtic manager is performing the greater the risk of that is … it is a perverse situation, but we keep on doing this again and again and again.

We need to keep holding the club’s feet to the fire on these issues. We cannot forever be doing a variation of “Too early to tell. We’ll see.” There is no certainty in football – that’s why we love the game, after all – but we want to know that we’re doing our best. The biggest risk here isn’t even that we low-ball it and go cheap … it’s that we get arrogant and complacent.

Ibrox’s hubris is why they are here. They pushed to get the biggest wage bill in the country because they convinced themselves that this would make a difference. But they keep on falling over their own feet. The problem our board has is that it’s been getting lucky on that for a long, long time. We rely not so much on what we get right but on what they get wrong.

And we cannot keep doing that. Their club is a mess because they believe that simply spending money, no matter what they get for it, will put them ahead of the teams they need to beat to win the league. Look at the signing of Silva.

Nobody will tell me that anyone from their club ever actually watched him play; that guy is as complete a waste of money as you will ever see. Why did they bring him to the club, even on loan, and make him their highest paid player, perhaps even more so than the keeper? They assumed, I think, that even a player who has flopped majorly in the EPL must be better than the standard SPFL dross. And he really isn’t.

Their arrogance is off the charts. Arrogance is what we want to avoid, and yet I think it characterised our summer signings. Lawwell Jnr probably believed that these guys would be better than the domestic opposition. Rodgers, with his experience, knew better. And these people ignored him anyway. They completely ran down his opinions.

Let’s not forget; we spent good money in the summer. Yes, we ended the window with a trading surplus and no net spend, but that matters less to me than what the money we did spend bought us. Nothing worth writing home about is the short answer. But people inside the club relied too much on their own criteria and their own judgement … and on Ibrox continuing to be a shambles. That’s what the “projects” strategy is based on; on having a good enough team to beat the SPFL level dross and hope that the guru manager can beat the Ibrox club.

Which is why even in the event we win this title, we might not automatically be set up for the next campaign unless we stop thinking about things in those terms.

At some point their club will get its act together; it almost has to. It cannot keep cycling through constant crisis. They need a better overall strategy; they need to commit to development and building something even if that means that they spend several years without challenging us … but at some stage someone over there is going to twig that stuff and then we better get real.

I believe in this team. I believe in this manager. I believe we’ve got the good to win this title from this position, and that we will. But it’s not over until we’ve put the points on the board, and I am still very nervous. I am nervous about the implications of succeeding as well as failing because with this board you just never know what that will lead to.

We cannot afford complacency or arrogance. Winning this title will still require us to win five games out of five, I think … and beyond that, we can’t think that just making the Groups is enough. Next season’s setup gives us opportunities, both in terms of co-efficient points and cold hard cash. But we need to take it seriously and do better in terms of the signings.

Anything else would be hubris … and that brings trouble. So right now we need to focus on the job at hand and treat every game like a cup final. Do that, and we’ll be in a good position to move forward. To move forward, Celtic, not stand still. That’s the other mistake we keep making.

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  • EddieE says:

    I obviously hope and think we will win the league but sadly that will means the board and probably most of the fans will have the “I told you so attitude” and argue that everyone else is a privileged brat and that everything is fine. Of course we will then continue our downward decline in Europe and become irrelevant outside of Scotland

  • Cyril Donohoe says:

    Win the first 3 games n draw 4 game we cannot be caught n that’s assuming the ibrox lot dont drop points before they come to Celtic Pk, I agree nothing should be taken for granted, the mentality has to be one game at a time n fully focussed.With regards to the ibrox club getting their act together, I do not believe that will happen unless n until they get real with their finances n stand up to the Clan n tell them the facts of life.The ibrox club has always been run in a haphazard financial mannner it is ingrained in their dna, the supremacist attitude of them is another huge issue.

  • Tonydtic says:

    Great week to be a Celtic fan, just don’t count the chickens yet.
    By my calculations 3 wins and 2 draws in any order wins. Just don’t lose and we’re nearly there.

  • Bhoy in paradise says:

    Only thing I am interested in at the moment is securing this league title. Form so far has been up and down if we are honest. Our recruitment going forwards has to improve, and the board needs to take a look at themselves.

    But there are 5 league games to be negotiated first. Brendan has to get the players to perform as we know they can, and each game has to be assessed one game at a time. I have no interest in what the rangers do. We have it in our own hands to win this league regardless of what the rangers do.

    Past results and performances don’t really matter now. It all comes down to the last 5 games. If the team play to the levels we know that they are capable of, they should do the business. Then I can let my thoughts turn to next season and the board etc.


    I don’t think we have a snowball’s chance in Hell of shifting Lawwell,more so if we lift this title.
    He won’t be able to resist the opportunity to ‘rub shoulders’ with the European ‘top brass’ as they launch their new CL Format.
    And as you rightly say it will be Parsimony Fc going forward from our Board. Just a little step ahead of DeidCo and nothing more. Compete in the new UCL , Naw Feck that, just show up and collect the dosh, thank you very much. Good for the Balance Sheet and the Share Price and more Share options for the Chairman and Board.

    • Fat mike says:

      Funnier point on Silva, and I’m sure everybody heard the village idiots thoughts on it last night: “he gets a jersey??”. They are contractually obliged to play him or there is a financial penalty (which they probably cant afford to pay). That’s the high stakes gambling that goes on over there especially in january (aaron ramsey, amad diallo et al). I agree, we need to aim higher, and hopefully now that the recruitment team are tending to the garden, progress isn’t far away on that front

  • Michael Clark says:

    Your writing a book here James but the long and the short of it is that the board have rolled the dice and maybe got away with it. However if the Celtic go into next seasons Champions league with this lot…all I can say is this won’t make for easy watching because all we are at the moment is the best of a bad bunch.

  • Gerry says:

    If everything was running correctly at our club, then we would not be in the midst of a title challenge from Sevco.

    Some of our fans may misconstrue quiet confidence in certain comments about our club winning this title, as complacency or arrogance.

    I personally don’t think that’s the case now or has ever been. It’s ok to display quiet confidence, as we’ve been over this course before and leave the supremacist arrogance to the multitudes from Mordor.

    This has been an extremely fraught and challenging season in many ways, but a lot of that can be aimed at our poor recruitment, especially last summer.

    Before we can attempt to address the many essential changes that our club needs, to move forward, we HAVE to get this title won, and through our own efforts ! Five Cup Finals to surmount.

    Do that and then we might start to see if BR can put his full stamp on this squad, and nullify, with DD’s assistance, his nemesis, PL.

  • The Joker says:

    Should we win this league the first thing those twobob journalists will write is about us not qualifying for the Champions league 25/26 season just to put damper on our success this season and the riches that will bring with it.

    • Joe McQuaid says:

      Well we could qualify for the CL in 25/26 if we win the big cup again next season!?

  • Mick Costello says:

    So true James. Be time enough for gloating when the jobs done. I’m sure Bendan will be driling that into the players.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    These are very good points indeed James…

    I remember in ma last year at school myself and a good buddy bragging and ripping the piss (at that particular juncture) outta a bluenose about being NINE points ahead going into The Derby game at New Years Day 1987 and how we were Champions once again…
    Well we lost that one 2-0, I remember listening in on a grainy old radio while having a sneaky wee underage drink at ma late wee granny’s heilan’ hame –

    So the gap was seven, then we drew with Motherwell I think, the gap was six, we lost it went to four then another loss and at the end of season 1986/87 we’d lost the league by six points…

    Even more galling was that it was only two points for a win then and we’d flung what was a huge advantage away through complacency and a hubristic attitude so it definitely can happen for sure…

    Let’s hope Brendan spots any arrogance if it’s there and knocks it outta them !

  • Tommy says:

    That article James sums up how most Celtic fans feel. A thoughtful analysis of how things stand without getting carried away with the present league standings.
    As long as Lawwell is presently on board this ship we can only hope for fair winds.
    You deserve a pat on the back for this one.

  • Kevin says:

    Someone watches ‘bluey’!

  • Frank Connelly says:

    We are all agreed that performances have been up and down all year. But over and above there needs to be an evaluation of the points we have dropped and what tactics the opposition employed in those matches. I watched teams go with three centre backs and a basic 5-4-1 system which frustrated us and then the late attempt to grab a point which in some cases succeeded. Thats my concern in the games coming up. I expect Killie Dundee and St Mirren to employ these tactics and we need to have a plan to break that down this time around. Once done lets talk about next season

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    It’s the same concerns we have every time a new season is comin up and next season will be nae different if lawwells still there. It’s goin tae be ourselves goin through the same lawwell ‘tried and tested’ strategy of understrengthenin, gamblin with our domestic prospects, gettin humiliated in Europe and stackin the cash. The concern in these last games is, if another of our key players like CCV, Hetate or kyogo gets an injury. That could change everythin and as Calmacs no 100% fit, we don’t have anyone on the bench that can replace them properly. Thats lawwells legacy. Tho hopefully we will have these players available.

  • Effarr says:

    I agree with everything said about Lawwell but I can`t understand how he was the one that signed the “dumplings” and it was Lennon, Rodgers and Postecoglou that signed the stars.
    To go back just to Postecoglou: did he not sign a few of the players who, especially the
    Japanese and S Koreans, who are now surplus to even the requirements of any team in the SPL? I would say that Lawwell is 90% of the problem but the managers at the times of these signings have to accept an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bit of the blame. I remember when Comper (?) was signed: he was invited to Rodgers` house for breakfast and he couldn`t believe the homework Rodgers had done on him, right down to knowing his favourite cornflakes. It`s
    a pity he hadn`t noticed that a solitary German cap ten years beforehand was what made him the “German international” they had signed. Maybe, of course, Peter was in charge of the signings in those days and Brendan in charge of the ham and eggs.

  • DannyGal says:

    “Too early to tell, we’ll see” very true James. My favourite Japanese saying is “don’t give your children fish, teach them how to fish”.
    I think people have forgotten that Celtic apparently signed 9 or 10 development players in summer and the broken bothers signed 9 or 10 “oven ready” players. Which of those would you replace the development players with?

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