Scottish Football, SPFL

Making a Pig’s Ear of It

Good Morning (and please Vote ‘Clumpany’)!

First of all, an apology.

The title of this piece isn’t a reference to a politician. [Although frankly it was a bit of a bind to be a non-political ethereal entity last night when social media was in full comedy flow].

The above headline was a cynical attempt to get you to click on the piece by saying something that hinted at lurid-but-vaguely-topic content.

Think of it as a small tribute to the Scottish sports media. In particular, their approach to Celtic.

Speaking of which…

How is everyone feeling about the crisis at Celtic that we have been hearing about?

Ever since that gut-wrenching exit from the Champions League – when Ronny Deila apparently brought the total amount he had personally lost the club to £17m over two years – the narrative around Celtic has been a downbeat one.

Actually it has been relentlessly doom-laden. The subsequent poor performance and defeat to comfortable league leaders Aberdeen – complete with shocking defending – only intensified things.

Ronny’s ability as a manager of players and tactician was called into question. This was apparently the worst Celtic team in years, and it was suggested that Sevco were not lagging all that far behind them.

One journalist even went off on a diatribe about how Peter Lawwell had failed to bury the Ibrox club for ‘a generation’ and would regret it.

The piece in question (unsurprisingly) failed to notice that Rangers had buried themselves in 2012, that tribute act Sevco is still hanging on a shoogly financial peg, and that the current ‘all conquering’ side is only playing in the second tier.

However, the deployment of such crucial points of context isn’t exactly conducive to the prevailing narrative about Sevco marching ‘back’ triumphantly to the top tier under the leadership of the world’s greatest manager, is it?

But back to Celtic. Yes, according to sections of the media almost everything was going wrong. And it was a view shared to varying degrees by some fans.

Pretty much everyone was exasperated by the repeated defensive shambles, and most suspected (possibly correctly) that there was some disharmony in the dressing room. There was also ongoing concern that the club simply hadn’t spent enough and/or bought the right kind of players in the transfer window.

These are reasonable gripes which fans of most clubs express at some point each season.

Most Celtic fans didn’t view it as a crisis. Some calmer heads saw a couple of bad results and abysmal performances as a blip, and called on the club and player to get it sorted.

But in substantial parts of the media commentary, things were more cut-and-dried: this was a crisis.

There haven’t been many occasions on which the media have been able to talk ‘doom and gloom’ about Celtic since Rangers boarded the liquidation bus to play Aidrieoneans, Gretna and Third Lanark in the ‘Great League In The Sky’. So perhaps they can be forgiven for commenting on Celtic’s recent difficulties with some gusto.

It’s a way of letting off steam.

But guess what?

Things aren’t actually that bad.

A good away performance in Europe (and how many times have we been able to say that in recent decades?) brought a point back from Amsterdam last week. It would have been all three had defensive frailties not reared their ugly head again at the end of the game. Nevertheless, it was a good start in a tough group, which the fans and much of the media applauded.

And yesterday, Celtic dismantled a decent Dundee side 6 (going on 10)-0, with some great play and goals, and with Ciftci finally getting on the scoresheet.

Celtic’s players looked more at ease with the ball and each other, and showed that they can get a result three days after a Europa League game.

Everyone went home happy.

Although the gap to Aberdeen remains at 5 points, people seem less worried about it than they were a few days ago. It is after all a very long season.

So is the panic over? Well I am not so sure that there was a need for panic in the first place.

Frustrations over signings are not going to go away. It will be interesting to see whether Carlton Cole signs and proves to be a revelation. I am looking forward to seeing what he has to offer. However, you do have to wonder what the board is playing at trying to sign a player like him in late September having had the whole of the summer transfer window to find a striker!

And of course there is still a need to work on those defensive frailties. Relentlessly.

But right now – and as I did last week, and the week before that – I think Celtic are well set for a good campaign during the rest of the domestic and European season.

No, really…

So come on Celtic fans, treat yourself to a smile.

You know you want to!

There is always someone worse off.


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