Fear And Loathing At Ibrox: Celtic’s Title Sounds The Alarm Bells Again In Crazy Town.

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Tomorrow night, the Ibrox club will play its last home game of the season. The atmosphere will be febrile. Not only is there nothing left to play for in the here and now, as far as the league goes, but for many in the ground there is nothing to look forward to either.

Way back in the sands of time, when I was looking for a title for these pieces, I was combing through my books and stuff for something that leaped off the page at me.

I love the work of Hunter S. Thompson and the style he pioneered, and so he was an obvious choice for inspiration. Not only was Fear & Loathing a fitting tribute to how much I think of him (I also named the colosseum piece yesterday after one of his famous pieces, and I named my “obituary” of Dave King “He Was A Crook” after his own superb denunciation of Nixon) but it was perfect because it captured exactly the twin emotions that run through the Ibrox crowd, and their club, on a day like Saturday. I mean, it is absolutely on the nose.

Fear and loathing at Ibrox. That’ll be the general feeling in their stands.

Tomorrow night will be interesting because it will be almost completely characterised by those emotions, no matter what the result is. The game will be played in front of a full house, and I do not have the slightest doubt about that, but nobody will be looking forward to it. Nobody will be going there with the least bit of enthusiasm.

Part of the reason is that most of those who will be there haven’t just pissed away their money for this season, but they’re in the bag for the next campaign already as well, and with a 10-15% markup on the cost of a season ticket, and the MyGers thing on top of that.

If that was me, I wouldn’t be able to sit and think about anything else as I watched guys like Tavernier go through the motions and pretend to care. I’d be mentally sitting counting how much I’ve spent and what else I might have got for the money. You could probably get a PS5 and a handful of top tier titles for the cost of an Ibrox season ticket, and it would bring you a lot more pleasure. Hell, if you have kids, you could get them their favourite titles and throw in a PSVR2 headset to go with it; believe me, they’d thank you for it one day.

Timing is a part of a good confidence trick.

You can’t ever let the mark think too much or too long before you spring the trap. That’s why the most common version of the short con involves another “interested party”, usually someone in cahoots with the con-man. Don’t give the mark a moment to consider the situation; put him to an immediate decision about whether he gets out his wallet or sees an opportunity pass him by. You’ll be amazed how fast he hands over his cash.

When I heard that they had put their season tickets on sale early, whilst they were still top of the table, but when we still had a huge opportunity to get back in front, I was amazed at the chutzpah of it, but not in the least bit surprised that it paid off. Their marketing and sales department played an absolute blinder. Fans rushed to renew, entirely convinced that they’d be watching “the champions” and celebrating that guaranteed Champions League cash.

And instead … well, we know what they got instead. Moral victory, anyone? Cause that’s worth the cost of a season ticket, isn’t it? Today Clement is claiming a “six-month title” triumph, proof that they’ve made “progress.” He isn’t the first Ibrox boss to think he can get himself off the hook talking that kind of trash. The last two have played that card. Even with Peepul as dumb as their supporters, there are only so many times you can do this.

As I’ve said in earlier articles, had Clement came in, won his games and come up just short Peepul would have been forgiving of that. He took over a sinking ship … and it sunk. You can’t apportion blame in that scenario, or you can but there will be just enough benefit of the doubt that nobody will take it particularly seriously.

But for all his bleating about having “improved” on the position they were in when he arrived at the club, it’s rubbish and everyone with any sense knows that it is rubbish. Our poor performance over December gave him his window, and they got themselves in front. If he wants to be judged on one half of his tenure and not the other, that’s ridiculous and he knows it is. Once they had themselves in the lead, he only had to keep on winning … and he couldn’t.

Had they beaten us at home, in front of none but their own fans, instead of snatching a point at the last knockings, they would still have something to fight for here … instead he insulted the intelligence of their supporters with all that “moral victory” cobblers, before he threw away five points and handed us the advantage instead.

Someone asked me last night if I was going to comment on the way teams started to get better against them after they’d played one round of games … of course I was going to comment on it, it’s the same pattern we saw with Van Bronckhorst and The Mooch before him.

Their ideas are so simplistic, their style so one dimensional, that only Steven Naismith hasn’t adapted to it yet, and the thing is, even Jackson acknowledged that in his column this morning. If Clement doesn’t have more in his locker than the dire long ball football he’s using right now, he’s not going to get through the first quarter of next season.

And that’s the dilemma for every fan who is going to that game tomorrow night; the worst isn’t necessarily over. It might be right in front of them.

They have a guy in the dugout right now who in the course of his media interview today told them everything is fine cause the gap was seven points when I got here and now it’s only six, who defended John Lundstram as a player who “has sometimes made mistakes” but who was still starting every week in front of fan heroes like Raskin and Tik Tok Todd, and who is swearing he and his coaches are “learning” from their mistakes; this is the guy who’s been 2-0 down against Celtic three times in a row. He’s learning about as quick as The Village Idiot trying to master Snakes & Ladders.

Celtic has the Champions League money. We can probably make a nice eight figure profit if, as many expect, Matt O’Riley gets an offer he can’t refuse. As I wrote earlier, the cash for Celtic’s rebuild is there whether that happens or not, but with that as a possibility Rodgers could have more money to spend than any Celtic manager has in history, and we’re talking here about sustainable spending, not the sort that gets you into debt. The prize for winning this title is enormous, and we’ve grabbed it and although they have a chance to get their own share a lot of work will have to be done at Ibrox prior to making that effort, and here’s where the real problems lie.

Without the gold-plated guarantee of that cash, what can they afford to spend? Crazily, they’ve already committed £5 million to the signing of Diomande. That’s insane. Three of the best players on the park this weekend – O’Riley, Hatate and Maeda – didn’t cost us that combined and our midfielders danced rings around that guy.

Even a bad Celtic scouting team is more capable than the one at Ibrox; their fixation with bling has pissed even more money up against the wall. Take Sima; not a bad player, but nowhere near the genius with the ball they make him out to be.

Our January window was, to all intents and purposes, an absolute let-down. We didn’t significantly strengthen the team in the manner most of us expected. But if ours was a failure theirs was a next-level disaster. They only needed to do two things; sign a striker who could score goals in this league, and there was an obvious option, and buy a centre back who wouldn’t look like someone who’d won a Be A Footballer For The Day competition.

Instead? Cortes, who showed his robust physicality by promptly getting injured. For months.

And Silva. Pure bling.

A £30 million player whose most notable achievement was an Oscar nomination for his acting.

The more sensible of their supporters must have listened to the talk today of a “major rebuild” and recognised that it’s highly unlikely without a magic money tree growing somewhere in the environs of Ibrox.

The supposition for others is that they can move players out for megabucks deals; they are crazy to believe that. Three out of four of Scotland’s most highly paid footballers are at Ibrox; you know who they are? Goldson, Tavernier and Ben Davies. Good luck finding clubs willing to give you money for that second rate junk.

They think they’ll get millions for Lammers; the club he’s on loan at certainly doesn’t want to keep him, but they don’t want to pay a transfer fee. There’s talk of another season long loan. Dessers will be at Ibrox next season guaranteed because they aren’t shifting him.

Where are they getting buyers for the likes of Hagi? The guys who are leaving on frees, or returning to their clubs on loan, do need replacing … where’s the money for that coming from, far less cash to strengthen the squad?

The more sensible amongst their number know this. They know that the one saleable asset is Butland, and they also know this league would have been over months ago if they didn’t have him, so there’s no easy way to replace a guy like that even if they do get a big fee, when so much of it will be earmarked for the rest of the team … and their chances of getting a big fee aren’t great anyway when you consider that this guy was available for free last summer and they were the club who got him. There were no EPL sides banging down his door.

Some think Celtic has a similar problem, but the players in our squad were cheaper, and we can find them loan moves without taking any significant hit to the finances. We posted yet another transfer trading profit last season; people in the media forget that at times.

All this is to say that every fan who goes to that game tomorrow knows, on some level, that next season is already shaping up as Celtic’s league to lose. The money they were counting on to be available to them is no longer guaranteed, but it will have to be worked for and fought for and bled for, and a significant squad clear out is unlikely to say the least. The chances are that they will be watching Tavernier, Goldson and others at Ibrox in the next campaign, augmented by a bunch of loan players and freebies and they’ll need the guts of that team in place before two rounds of Champions League qualifiers happen … or they can forget it.

It might not have sunk all the way in yet what Celtic winning this title means, but all of them know that it’s bad, that it’s got long term implications, and all of them know that it bleeds into next season and how they are going to mount even a token challenge when the rebuild they’re facing is so large, and without proper money being available to do it.

So anxiety will compete with the fear. The fear that because of what they’re watching and listening to come out of the manager’s mouth is telling them that he’s lost the plot. The fear that the January window is what his ideas look like, and they all know how badly that has gone. The fear that the one good player in their side will leave and that they won’t get nearly what they hope for in return, and that this too little will have to be spread too thin.

There’s certainly enough loathing to go around, and a lot of it is concentrated on the club itself, this soul-crushing institution which builds up their hopes just to shatter them again, and always has one hand in their pockets emptying them of their cash.

What almost all of them will know, above all, is that they are locked into next season already, the money for the tickets paid in advance without them knowing the line-up, without knowing the routine, without knowing who the stars are or even what the show will be. It’s easy to talk about fools and their money, it’s another thing entirely when it’s your money, and you’re the fool, and you have to sit there tomorrow night for that non-event and find reasons to hope that it’s not the shape of things to come. “Maybe we’ll get off to a good start after the summer …”

Yeah, cling on to that one, because over all of it will hang one dark, troubling thought, for those who dare project their minds towards it; Celtic, going for 55 … and the first of the derbies is at their house. So much for that positive start, eah?

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  • Joe McQuaid says:

    We haven’t secured the title yet James – one game at a time.

    • William Melvin says:

      100% correct,Joe !!!
      Was glad to see the interview wae Calmac last night stating that fact and that nothing was being taken for granted.
      How could it when we have that arsehole at the SFA handpicking his refereeing teams to try and derail our title ambitions before he fucks off at the end of the season.
      Yet another scandal to lay at the feet of our parasite of a chairman and the lackeys on the board at Paradise.
      As soon as the final whistle on the 25th of May sounds they should be hunted by the Celtic support until it’s too unbearable for them to stay.
      The restraint and unswerving support for the team shown from our fans has played a huge part in this effort for honours this season.

  • Johnny Green says:

    I don’t think it will be a full house at Ibrox tomorrow night James, there is only so much their staunchness can suffer.

  • Tony B says:

    The sevcongs are suckers to a man.

    And you know how the old saying goes……………………………………………………

    NEVER give a sucker an even break.

  • Bennybhoy57 says:

    As part of the agreement for losing the court case for pulling out the Australian tour, was it not this summer they have to play some friendlies as compensation to the organiser’s.

  • Brattbakk says:

    This is as good a time as any for gloating. We’ve overcame so much this season that it shows the strength in the manager and the mentality of the squad. Improvement quality wise next season is seemingly inevitable, the money is there and BR will get what he needs. It also shows the frailties over the road. They might qualify for the CL but commit any of that money in advance, they’ve already rinsed the fans and haven’t fixed the problems. Sima and Silva will be away so there’s every chance they’ll be weaker next season. Next season is Rodgers statement season, treble and record points total coming up.

  • David ONeill says:

    I’m gonna cut a really long story very very short..

    Baldy Beale is going nowhere whether he wins Scottish Cup or not.

    Sevco will not make it through the CL qualifiers

    Sevco will loss first 2 league Derby’s, if they meet celtic in league cup, they’ll loss that too

    Baldy Beale will be replaced by McInnes and a re re re re re(yawn)reeebuild and total clearout will commence Jan 2025

    spidey senses tell me January 2025 could be like February 2012:-/

    Pressing ADMIN button is only way for total clear out contracts the lot..

    TIC tock TIC tock goes the admin clock:-)

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    “Maybe we’ll get off to a good start after the summer…

    Aye – And Maybe no as well –

    Bloody Hell – It’s so The Sevco Way… Jam tomorrow… Honey the week after…

    And the wheels on the bus go round and round –

    Until the business end of the journey – Then its awash and swimming in vomit !

  • Effarr says:

    If they win by a big score tomorrow and reduce the lead to three points it will be back to
    “game on” for them and, although unlikely, it is possible that Celtic could still soil the nest.
    Just wait until Celtic have the league won before boasting. It has been such a nervous season that the rollercoaster may still be in operation and have more to throw up. You can be sure McInnes and Robinson will be all out not only to win but to win it for the team they support.

    • James Forrest says:

      Lol. I appreciate the sentiments, but as I said when someone accused me of overconfidence in the run up to Saturday, that ship has sailed.

      We are the champions my friend … though they’ll keep on fighting toooooooo the end … lol

  • Gerry Thomas McCaugherty says:

    spot on with the article as usual and the one thing that makes me laugh about that lot is they are so wrapped up in their hatred and bigotry for us that they just dont get their club is sinking further into sure the clever fans among them are more than aware the position the club is in ans there is no cloud with a silver lining in the distance,long may it continue.
    celtic are now in a position to totally dominate this league for a long time,fans have ripped into the club for some short commings justified or not i fully back our board and will continue to do so.IN CELTIC AND BRENDAN I TRUST.

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