Celtic’s Critics Are Shellshocked By The Last Week. How Will They Cope If We Win This?

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For many months now, the mood music in the newsrooms has been one of “Celtic in crisis.” We all know this to be true, no matter if they deny it, and many of them will try to. Some of the hacks are at their happiest when they can write about high times at Ibrox, and when they have a managerial pin-up to cheer on. They have well and truly indulged themselves of late.

Of course, the last week has taken care of that. For some of them, a hushed, awed, shocked silence has fallen. Others continue to make positive noises about the league still “being in our hands”, and still more of them are looking at Celtic’s fixture list and imagining where we might drop the points. They are stunned by what has befallen them in a short time.

Not one of them challenged the bizarre nonsense the Ibrox boss talked coming out of the 3-3 game at that ground, where we absolutely dominated them for much of the match. They listened politely and respectfully as he talked absolute garbage about a “moral victory” and ignored the fact that they had blown a chance to deal us a devastating blow.

But in point of fact, the writing was on the wall. The Motherwell victory at Ibrox had shattered the myth of them being invincible (a lie, as we had already beaten them under this manager). The warning signs had been clear in that game, and they were even clearer at Ibrox against Benfica where they barely troubled the Portuguese and went spinning out of Europe.

Remember what we all thought in the aftermath of that one? That team of theirs looks out on its feet. Half of them plodded around the pitch like holidaymakers walking along the beach-side boulevard. I thought they were in bother that night, which is why I wouldn’t have been terribly worried had they gone through and needed to play two more games.

The media chose to ignore that night and the abject performance. Most of them reverted to the same old tired argument about how it would leave them free to concentrate on “winning the treble.” There was a general sense of optimism that they would do just that. But anyone who watched them in that game, with an objective eye, knew they didn’t look right.

The Dundee postponement, which we all assumed would help them, has actually harmed them instead. Coming on the heels of the draw against us and the Ross County defeat they took the field looking bereft of confidence. Even if Celtic were to drop points now, I think in all probability they would too, and outside of the game against us on 11 May.

Some of the hacks are having a hard time grasping that. They are looking for where Celtic might fail without thinking through the implications of the Ibrox side dropping more points and making it irrelevant anyway, and that does look like a genuine possibility.

A key indicator will be Hearts on Sunday. The Edinburgh club must surely smell blood in the air. The Ibrox side looks weak and vulnerable.

This is the perfect time to get them. Those in the media who have spent these past few months talking Clement up probably fear this above everything else. The title race may be slipping away, but the dream of silverware can live on a while longer.

Much of course will depend on how their opponents decide to set themselves up. Naismith might be perfectly happy to toss them some scraps in the league from time to time, but he cannot countenance doing so in a cup competition with a place in the final up for grabs. If he isn’t putting them under severe pressure then he should be under it himself.

Some of our hacks are not remotely ready for a scenario where their favourite club, under the living legend Phillipe Clement, go out of the cup and still need to go to Celtic Park and win to have any chance in the title race. That will devastate them.

Whatever will they write about then? Rodgers being linked with a return to the Premiership probably, especially if he’s a double winning boss and makes it nine trophies out of ten as Celtic manager. There will certainly be an avalanche of pieces about Celtic losing their best players, but that’s par for the course in every year I’ve watched us.

People like Jackson will lose their minds if we secure a double. They will find a straw or two to clutch to, and we recognise this fact; we can even hazard a guess as to how the mantra will go. Clement doesn’t have his own players blah blah blah.

But the truth is, their fans will look at a boss who was briefly top of the league and blew it. Who couldn’t secure the Scottish Cup. Who has a League Cup, yes, but one when they were deep into the tournament and with no Celtic in it to provide the kind of challenge in the final which would have tested him when he took over the reigns. If that scenario plays out after he’s had three league games in which to beat us and hasn’t done it … then he’s in trouble.

And above all else, our friends in the press are in no way prepared for a scenario like that, a scenario where this guy starts the season on Death Watch. Not even Beale or Van Bronckhorst opened a campaign in that kind of trouble, and their heads will explode if they have to contemplate the possibility that he might not be the hero after all but just another pretender, just another in a long line of disappointments. Part of it will be that disappointment. Part of it will be the embarrassment of once again putting their faith in a false idol and being made look stupid.

This is only half the story too. Because aside from making Clement into the fairytale prince who was coming to their aid to take back the kingdom, they also painted Rodgers as a fading power, the man who had it and lost it and nothing will annihilate the cosy little fantasy they’ve locked themselves into than having to confront the totality of that mistake.

But if Rodgers ends this season a double winner, if he bests Clement in the league and then takes the Scottish Cup, whether it’s the Ibrox club in the final or not, he will have established his supremacy all over again. He will be the colossus who stands astride the whole of the Scottish game and some of these people will have to take a knee and kiss the ring.

I’m sure that he will be magnanimous about it all, but in some ways that will make it worse for those who have to cover any victory lap he takes. People like Keevins will offer their congratulations through gritted teeth. Those who have said he’s lost his edge will need to acknowledge how wrong they were. Those who confidently predicted his demise will need to accept their mistake and acknowledge it … and his authority with it.

Even without the Scottish Cup, they all know that the title is the glittering prize which promises access to the Promised Land of the Champions League, something that a Scottish club might not automatically secure for a long time to come. This is the title that matters above all others because that prize is so big and enticing … if we get that and Rodgers gets the backing that achievement deserves it’s not hard to see him leaving this Ibrox club for dead.

That’s their real fear, and that fear is now coursing through them and a lot of them don’t know what to do with it. So, they cling to hope. Good. Let them. It’s the hope that causes the greater pain. Nothing is worse than having hope only to see it snatched away.

The last two weeks have been a searing experience for people who thought that they only had to neatly dispatch us in front of a home crowd, win their games in hand and jog towards the finishing line. A lot of them still can’t believe this is happening to them, and whilst it’s not over yet they do feel the walls closing in.

I badly want this club of ours to finish the job. I badly want us to get this title won, because in so many, many ways it will be the sweetest one of the lot, and that’s because of them, because of the media which has worked so hard to surround our club with unrelenting negativity and talk of crisis, even when we were sitting at the top of the league earlier in the campaign.

On the day Rodgers holds that trophy, if it comes, and I’m sure it will, I will spare them a thought, just one, a little one, no more than a moment, and perhaps even acknowledge their part in it. Because when things were at their worst it was knowing we had to stick together if for no other reason than just to spite them and spit in their eye that helped to get us through.

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  • Suspiciousmind says:

    It is my unequivocal opinion that Lawwell and his cohorts do not want to leave their rivals too far behind. Business is business to the accountant. Brendan attempts to succeed and indeed, has outside this perennial loop. Good luck and best wishes to him and the squad for the rest of the season

  • Tony B says:

    Fleep Flop The Forlorn Flem is not the messiah; he’s a very creepy boy.

  • FSTB says:

    I agree that if we win the double it WILL be one of the sweetest .
    I would also spare a thought for the MIBs and VARs as all their hard work will have come to nowt but a league cup

  • Paul Mac says:

    Funny reading his comments … I am sitting here thinking (Charlie Nicholas style ?) PC … where have I seen those initials before ?? Ahhh the Caravans …. you could flip a coin over which PC was the more delusional … Clement or Caixinha ?

    • Effarr says:

      PC? What do you think they thought after the game in Dingwall when the fans were leaving and RC (FC) appeared on the vacated seats?

  • Captain Swing says:

    To put it in rap terms….

    Even when he was close to defeat, he rose to his feet…

    Still B.R.E. (ndan) has the number of the So-Wrang Klan…..

    Think I need to go and have a joint.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Absolutely magnificent journalism of the very highest quality James, one of your very best yet – And the rest are pretty bloody good as well…

    I’ve often wondered on reading your content and what therefore that the media write about us as to why they hate us…

    Ok you’re gonna find a Sevco Hun in all works in Scotland but it seems so one sided in that particular industry…

    Actually I’ve even wondered if they are all Sevco Huns, surely some must genuinely be St. Mirren, St. Johnstone etc but is the editor of their publication putting a gun to their heads and saying “Find a negative story about Celtic and a positive one about Sevco (well they’d of course use the deceased word ‘rangers’ ) and these guys are too scared not to…

    Who knows – But it’s good fun to see their circulation figures drop month on month and cream ourselves about the redundancy notices coming down the pipe in their direction…

    Lovely, Beautiful and Awesome is the Schadenfreude of it all – For me anyway for certain !

    • Effarr says:


      They don`t need an editor to put a gun to their heads: It couldn`t be any more simple.
      I have often said that if you wish to get an OF Sevco fan to think of the Pope all you need to do is give them a can of spray paint . Celtic and Ireland, despite it nowadays being very tenuous links in both cases, are associated with Catholicism. It needs no more explaining or mind-wracking.

  • Danny Curran says:

    The biggest threat to our club are the the Men in
    Black, the next league game and who the official’s will be especially
    the V.A.R. official.
    On a level playing field I have no worries.
    As we all know the Sevco
    Needs the money and all the help from the Men in Black.

  • John Copeland says:

    My take on the fact that the SMSM were ultra dependent on a tribute act league win this season in particular ,is because an awful lot of redundancies are heading for them very soon ? This season was their last chance to savour a the Rangers championship win while the scoops remained at their soon to be defunct publications ! A the Rangers win when no longer employed would have been gravy on the old roast dinner ….one for the archives !

  • Taj says:

    Brilliant piece, as always James. Agree this would be the sweetest one, with BR working with his hands behind his back from so many areas. The bhoys need to keep focused and get us across the line. COYBIG!

  • Charlie Green says:

    It’s interesting to think if it wasn’t for the officials, Sevco would be nowhere the top as the points they stole would have gone to other teams.


      I think they would hover just about over the bottom 6 at best without the ‘assisted progression ‘.

  • John mcghee says:

    Just make sure that the title stays at paradise anything else is a bonus for us.if we do keep this title and get the CL money then i hope our board learn from there mistakes and let BR get better players in we need a GK .LB. and a few others because we should be miles from they cheats at liebrox but lawwell diznae want to go to far ahead but see if it was them they would leave us behide and they done it with there ebt sideletters years they didn’t care about celtic infact Murray tryed his best to sink us sure in 1994 so lawwell should think of that and the fans and leave sevco scotland fc 2012 were they belong lying in the gutter because thats were they should be after cheating every club in the spl years ago..Hail Hail.

  • Effarr says:

    All true what you say but I`m in a pure panic now after reading in the dictionary what the word IF means.

    I hope it doesn`t come to it but, if you really have to, please read the instructions on the humble pie tin where it says it is best washed down with the aid of twenty pints of lager.

  • Mr Magoo says:

    Ahhhhh James

    I luv the part where they can take a knee and kiss his ring .

    I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs, I imagined Keevins and others in a queue behind Brendan as he is bent over and they all, one at a time kiss his arse.

    Can I borrow a pencil please .. I need to poke my minds out .

  • Roonsa says:

    I liked your Chinese proverb the other day about things being “too early to say”. As much as I get it and that’s how I’ve always lived my life … as I get older, I try to live life in the now. That’s why I am all for kicking the huns whilst they are down. I don’t care if it sticks in their memory and they have a chance to get me back at a later date. That’s life. If you give it out, take it. So I give it out 🙂 They’re not not going to do it if they ever get the chance anyway. So I might as well!

    Nice article though. I feel very zen about how things are shaping up.

  • Gerry says:

    If/when we secure this title, our players and manager deserve great praise.
    In the face of so much adversity and criticism from all quarters this season, they’ve kept at it.
    It has been pretty dreadful at times, going to the games, and hearing every groan and expletive when we make a bad pass or decision, ( of which there have been plenty!)

    To hear and read the overdoses of sycophancy towards the Phoenix club and their predictable ‘can you see us now,’ guff, has been both nauseating and irritating !!

    I’ll not veer from the opinion that if we had our own house in complete order, then there would be no talk or chance of a title race.

    That, and the injuries to our ‘key players,’ at vital times. Yes, we should have depth of cover, but our club’s mediocre signing policy, definitely impacted and endangered our ability to try & win this title! Again, it’s to the players’ and manager’s credit, that we are in this current position.

    It has to be reiterated that we have a way to go yet, but like so many others, the satisfaction we’ll get, in winning this title, will be hugely palpable.

    We have been used to high levels of success in recent times, but none of us, can ever forget the pre Sevco era that cheated and deceived, unchecked for many years! Let’s never forget their gloating and goading !

    This is why we have to see this through with conviction and style.

    Who knows what mischievous throws of the dice our ‘ honest’ officials and VAR will attempt in the closing fixtures?

    Nevertheless, as long as we can throw a double six and win this title, I’ll be one of the many, very happy bhoys & ghirls in May.

  • John says:

    Very good article James only thing i would add is not the medias obvious bias that is a given but there are six matches in front of Celtic and it is the referee’s and Var officials who will need scrutinising over these coming weeks as they and they alone can damage Cetic’s march to a double to help others achieve results, words written or spoken by morons are like water off a ducks back.

  • DannyGal says:

    Thanks for yet another great read James!
    When I watch and hear Clement’s recent implosions it strikes me that it’s in direct contrast to Brendan’s genuine class. The media’s depiction of the Belgian as a great manager who oozes, honesty, class and integrity is starting to wear thin.
    I think Brendan’s composure in recent times when he and his team have come under scrutiny, has had an affect on Clement.
    For me Brendan’s finest moment as a manager came with his measured response to the Tyncastle debacle. With a microphone thrust in his face right after a potentially damaging defeat, in full knowledge he would receive a dugout ban, to state with the ultimate calmness that incompetency was the only word he could use to describe the officials, was a masterclass in how to manage himself, his players, his club and his supporters, whilst schooling Clement and the Scottish Media in how to conduct yourself in adversity. Brendan won Celtic the title that day, after a defeat!

  • bertie basset says:

    sevco are vulnerable on sunday to hearts , nayisy don’t mind dropping points in the league to them as the bent in black will return the points to them later in the season , such as the oct cheating , a goal up with 2 minutes to go and no neck beaston makes it two one to sevco , he gave hearts back the 3 points at celtics expense sending off yang and giving them a dodgy penalty , however the cup is a chance for hearts to make history and sevco are there for the taking , but the league is not finished yet , i have a hunch that no neck and his cronies are not finished yet sevco may create their own battle of the bulge with the help of the bent in black and we must be alert to that danger , i hope BR flags our concerns about the possibility of such

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