The “Real Celtic” Turned Up At The Right Time And Is Now Gearing Up For More Dominance.

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Two things summed up this club today, from opposite ends of the scale. On one side we had our sense of fun and taking pleasure in where we are. On the other side was the kind of seriousness and focus which has gotten us here.

Celtic is an enjoyable place to be again, and it’s a shame it has taken us so long to get here. An entire season has almost come and gone, and if we win the cup next week it will be as complete a triumph as we could have had.

At the height of our frustration, in December, during the Hearts game, the Celtic Park crowd booed Santa. Today he was back at the stadium presenting the trophy. This is Celtic. This is our fun side. At the same time, we did the job on the pitch and secured this title by an eight point margin, a psychologically significant number as we’ll see.

A couple of months ago, i wrote here about how this team would have to outdo its performance so far in the campaign if we were to take the prize. The unbeaten run since Hearts has been impressive enough.

We’ve won all five post-split fixtures. We’ve gone to Ibrox and got the all important draw which kept us in the race … but our football has gotten better and better as we’ve gone along, and that’s been noted by more than just the people in our stands. Those above the manager have seen that he has the team firing; they know he has to be backed now. The side across town has watched the same and they are suffering psychological trauma as a result of that. They will not be looking forward to next weekend.

Having Santa at the game today is not the piece of fluff that it seems either. It’s actually a demonstration of supreme confidence, which is a big part of the overall outlook of the club right now, one that is secure enough in itself to indulge in a little bit of self deprecating humour. That element will almost certainly be overlooked but it shouldn’t be. It’s the surest sign you can get that morale inside Parkhead is sky-high.

I was fortunate enough to be at a fan media chat with some of the players after the game, and the manager came over at the end and spoke to us a while, and it’s clear listening to him and to them that there is a tremendous sense of purpose right across the club. Greg Taylor spoke about the challenges he’s faced at Celtic, and with knowing that every transfer window will bring a slew of stories about who we’re replacing him with as if all of it were nothing at all; this guy literally doesn’t feel the pressure.

James Forrest spoke about how for him it’s all about being a team player whether he’s in the side or not, and it’s clear that he and Taylor are amongst our leaders. Forrest talked up the roles of others in the squad who often go unsung, like Ralston, who he says is one of the guys who is instrumental in clueing new players in to what Celtic means … this club has superb leadership in the football department, and even those players who aren’t in the team every week are making major contributions behind the scenes.

But it was the boss who had the truly ominous message. He came over and he talked to us about unity and togetherness and how those things might have been a little off at stages in the season, but that a recognition that we were in a fight had brought the whole club together again and that once he felt that click he knew we’d be fine.

I reminded him of the question I put to him at the end of the fan media conference to herald his return, where I asked him if he had a message for those amongst the critics who were trying to suggest that he hadn’t done much the last time he was here because the Ibrox club had been badly run – “See you in May,” he said, and then took that message out to the crowd. The message he had today was even more menacing.

After a season in which we were being told that at last we were up against the “real” Rangers, a contradiction in terms if ever I’ve heard one since it didn’t involve a grave digger and some serious smelling salts, he told us that now, at last, our rivals are facing “the real Celtic.” And he and the rest of the club are clearly planning to take that into the cup final and then the summer and beyond

Since finding their feet, this team has, in the space of a few short weeks, been able to pull away from our rivals, win this title and set us up for a double.

It was a perfect way to end a wonderful day.

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  • Brattbakk says:

    With the league already won and the game sitting at 2-2, them across the city 3-2 up, it’s just greedy to expect we’d find a winner and they’d concede to make the gap 8 points. It’s a season that keeps getting better. On to next week. Absolutely brilliant.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Was a brilliant day and here’s hopin we can continue it next Saturday. And btw, was at most of the games mentioned there. Great days. Tho have tae say, only thing that’s severely annoyed me over these last 2 games and ah dont mind sayin it, is seein Neil lennon takin plaudits on the pitch side with the Celtic support. The very same support, he arrogantly treated like fools in his last season there. Far as ahm concerned he should be makin himself as inconspicuous as lawwell. Anyway, apert from that, the ‘bill’ has arrived for yesterday’s celebrations, in the shape of a bumpin heed. 2 anaddin and ah lie doon required.

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