Fear And Loathing In Dingwall: Advantage Celtic Amidst The Sound Of Crashing Bottles

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It was Orwell, in 1984, who wrote, “In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement.” It’s a description of the mad skull section of the Ibrox support who we cover on this site over and over again.

Except the triumph part, unless you count moral victories.

Today the sound of Beautiful Sunday reverberates around this house, as the sound of booing reverberates around Dingwall and parts of the West of Scotland; pubs where grown men look downcast into their pints or glower at each other ready to unleash their pent-up fury at the first person who suggests that this league still has a “long way to go.”

It does, actually, but today the narrow advantage we seized last week by going to Ibrox and leaving with that point (not the moral victory though, alas, and how we had wanted that worthless bauble) has been turned into something much more substantial.

We now have a points lead again, and we’ve opened up a reasonable goal difference gap.

That sound you hear, above the sound of Clement grinding his teeth, is of many, many, many bottles crashing, and not even in the usual way, which is after they’ve been thrown at Celtic coaches and players. Their team cannot handle pressure at all.

We all suspected that when the heat was really on they would melt like a Mars Bar left on a radiator turned up to full, and today they were absolutely woeful.

They scored today with a flukey own goal and the obligatory penalty kick. They conceded three. They were all over the place defensively and offered very little upfront.

In the aftermath Manneken Piss actually blamed the Dundee pitch fiasco for it. I am certain more of their crazed fans who were last week linking us with that and tracing its roots to Dermot Desmond’s secret weather machine were equally outraged.

I do find their logic somewhat suspect; it gave them less time to prepare for today. Having no game. Less time to prepare. Wow. Wouldn’t they have had even less time had they actually needed to play it?

Nobody said anything that comes out of there has to make sense, folks.

That feels significant. It’s also pretty funny.

It has tickled the funny bone in a big way.

Even the sight, after the match, of a fuming Clement storming up the tunnel without acknowledging his fellow manager (although once his attention was drawn to it he made sure to give him a hug in front of the BBC). His obvious fury is hilarious.

You can only imagine the slaughtering he has given some of the players in that dressing room, particularly the serial losers.

That team of theirs reeks of defeat. Lundstram’s face when the third went in … he looked grief-stricken. I might even have felt sorry for him if I wasn’t too busy jumping about punching the air and laughing at him instead. Tavernier used the word “disappointed” or a derivation of it four times in his interview; he is absolutely scunnered. The only reason he’s sleeping at night right now is the injury to Maeda. He will not relish coming to Celtic Park anyway.

None of them will. And they still have the Dundee encounter to come, and how they lift themselves for that one is going to be the biggest test of a manager who for all the honey the media pours on him has not had much of one yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I expect they’ll win that and people will start talking about how they can build momentum again … but this one feels like a big one, it feels like an important one, it feels like the stunning blow that sets up the knockout punch.

We have to do our own part. We cannot make any mistakes. Our season has been stuttering and stop-start, but as crushing as this blow is for them it should elevate our spirits and send us to Hampden in the right frame of mind next weekend.

Now they face a tricky away trip in midweek, followed by a Hampden match against Hearts, a game I’d have expected them to win prior to recent events but which now represents a major threat.

And Dundee will, themselves, be buoyed by their top six place and by watching how easily Ross County got in behind the Ibrox defence today.

The Ibrox club and its fans are correct to be fearful of that encounter now, and of what awaits them against Hearts.

The season which offered so much – remember when they were talking about a quadruple? – now approaches an end which is shaping up to be not so much the Hollywood tear-jerker but something more akin to a David Fincher movie, with a devastating nihilistic shocker of a finish, delivered before the credits roll, the kind that leaves you stumbling out of the cinema feeling like a mugging victim. The aura of invincibility is gone.

All talk of a team destined to be champions has quieted and its up to us to keep it that way.

We are in the driver’s seat. Again. The manner of it feels consequential; we just have to keep it together and we’ll make it, and although we have stumbled almost as much as they have this season, our players have been over the course and know how to handle it, and we’re producing, in patches, the kind of football which made us formidable.

All they have now is the fear. The fear that after putting together a good run of form that it has crashed with their bottle, and that all of it has been in vain.

Nothing is more soul destroying.

Nothing is more shattering to morale and the confidence needed to be winners. Earlier in the season you would have bet on them taking something from that one even at 3-1 down, and especially with the near-certainty of a penalty to help them along the way.

But they never looked at any time as if they had the self-belief for it.

So, the fear … yes, and over the next few days it will continue to grow. With it will be the feeling that they’ve lost the initiative and are now in a fight just to stay in the race until the final weekend. If we keep winning, we can rip that from them too, at Celtic Park.

The loathing? Well as usual it is directed everywhere.

At their “failed” players, those who have done this to them again and again, who built their hopes, raised their spirits, filled them with belief and then let it all wash away like tears in the rain. Some of it is directed at Dundee, who should use that to fuel their own performance in midweek.

But their loathing really is self-loathing, and the feeling that they have been made to look like fools for their hope and their confidence, fools who have bought the Brooklyn Bridge over and over again, mugs who bought season tickets for the next campaign in a wave of euphoria about a future which we might be on the brink of snatching away.

It’s the self-abasement Orwell talked about, that last character trait of the Sevconian.

As the outstanding Paddy Power ad which came out right on full time (and which I’ve posted underneath) says, “Don’t ever change, guys.”

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  • Jimmy says:

    Well done Ross county. Happy as a pig in shite.
    C’mon now bhoys get it done.

  • Steven Murphy says:

    Like you predicted Jamsey bhoy the wheels are falling off the clement juggernaut and it’s beautiful I’m personally buzzing

  • Steven Murphy says:

    James can you do me a favour and ask Joe hart how he can source a short sleeved goalkeepers top I got last seasons goalkeepers top in short sleeves but was told this seasons doesn’t come in short sleeves how can the Celtic shop claim to sell “official merchandise” when the only options is long sleeve and Joe never wears long sleeves

  • Jim Duffy says:

    James,you say you expect them to win that game against Dundee,I like you expected them to win against Ross county,but it just shows us ,don’t expect anything.As long as we do our job Celtic Should! win this title, because this will be the sweetest win in all my 66 years being a Celtic fan.

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