Thoughts From An End Of Season Sofa Part One
El cormaco sits down, grabs a coffee, and with a particularly wide grin, muses on the season just passed
What a season. In my time I probably only put the Seville year as a more memorable season – although of course we didn’t win anything that year, Wim the Tim stopping the ten for more joy (after a long period of nervous anxiety) and the centenary season for its pure Celtic romance.
This fitba season has seen some remarkable things happen; handstands, new stands, angry fans, but at Celtic the story is much more harmonious for once: fans, players, staff, management and board at Celtic all on the same page.
We would likely have won the league this year with Ronnie, but the banner covering part of the top tier would need to be about three times as big as people just found other things to do rather than go to games and try to get excited about watching Nir Bitton decide if his next pass is going sideways or backwards. Putting in place a manager with a clear vision of attacking football, the almost mythical “Celtic way”, and ability to convey that to players and get them to implement it has brought all the separate elements together to reunite with a common purpose that makes us unbeatable – literally – in Scotland.
A personal detour for a second. I moved to study in Glasgow as Rangers were doing their fifth or sixth in a row, and was there until we stopped the ten, so I will not take times like these for granted; I felt too much hurt for too long to get sick of winning now. Anyone in the media crying about the lack of competition or how it must be boring for Celtic fans is clearly not a Celtic fan. There were no voices of complaint as Celtic came in fourth and almost went out of business in the dark 1990s. Celtic were formed to fill a gap where it was clear the state wasn’t going to help the poorest in the city, and Celtic stand where they are today with a similar attitude of doing it for ourselves rather than rely on others through good housekeeping and doing the right thing over a period of time. Let the others reflect on the approach they took and where it got them, light a fat one if that’s your thing and enjoy the pain.
As no one will remember I made some predictions about the season ahead back in August, and unlike an administrator in the SFA or SPFL or a “journalist” I feel I am somewhat accountable for my words and deeds, so I’ m going to highlight some of what I said then to show any remaining doubters that I KNOW FOOTBALL, right?
Remember as you read this the prediction parts were written after only one league game and when most of the SMSM pack were still bursting with optimism about “Going for 55” – hey, no laughing there. They’d signed Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar, or as Clint Hill called them, “the legs in the team”. They were doing “by the min” Joey watches in the papers, Jackson was taking about credible title challenges and Kenny Miller was bristling at Scott Brown’s prediction that Aberdeen and Celtic would battle it our for second place. In fairness to Kenny Scott was wrong to say that, events proved they would be closer to fourth.
“Celtic. We have recruited well, bringing more pace and power into the team and more experience at the back. We have several players now you would expect to get into double figures for goals as well as Griffiths. Dembele, Roberts, Sinclair should all get double figures if they stay fit.
We already were well ahead of the pack under the Ronnie revolution (can we say now thank God it’s over?) and even with no summer signings should still have won the league. But the signings we have made and the improved mood in the club and among fans means we can win it in some style this year, with some games where we run up big scores. I’m going to predict we get over 90 league goals this season. That’s 2.4 goals a game. We got two on Sunday, and to be honest I don’t know how you score 0.4 of a goal, but I’m sure we’ll do it.
We are also going to be less tactically predictable this year, able to throw our opponents planning into doubt more often, having used more various formations in a half under Rodgers than in 2 seasons under Ronnie.”
I mean, could I be any more right?
More pace and power in the team? Check
More experience at the back? Check – Okay Kolo tailed off but he was instrumental in getting us into the Champions League and our strong start to the season
Players in double figures? Check – Griff, Dembers, Sincy. Armstrong, Paddy
Win it in style this year? Check. What stats do you want – most wins, most points, invincible league season, playing fluid exciting football.
Big scores – check. If in doubt, just look at the time – it’s five past *rangers, or 16 past *rangers if you prefer a 24 hour clock
Loads of goals – check. 106 league goals, or 2.7 per game
“Aberdeen. They are still best placed to offer a challenge, they don’t lose often, and have a settled squad and a good manager. That said he is a bit of moaning faced git and of course has the irremovable mark of the Hun about him, but his team are tough and will stay the course for most of the season.”
Ahem, again, I was spot on, right down to the “moaning faced git” comment, they ended with a record of their own for points in a season, so hats off to them. They also went and won at Ibrox, a monkey off their back and will help make the battle for second and third interesting over the next couple of years
Hearts. They seem to have moved away from the neat and tidy game they played in the championship to a more physical, direct style.
They have a decent squad of players and manager, who like Mc Innes is also something of a moaning faced pain, and if I may give some sartorial advice I’d tell him he needs to change his hair style as he’s losing too much hair through the middle, but I digress.
I admire them much more than I used to, they actually saved their club from liquidation
Hands up. I was wrong, although I did point out that their manager was an important part of their relative success, as opposed to their current manager who many Hearts fans now see as an impotent part. Not sure what their “style” of play now is – is losing a style?
He still needs a hard look at his hair though, its parting like the red sea in front of Moses
“*Rangers. They have more OAPs than a Cliff Richard gig (and he prefers a much younger crowd allegedly) but have a better squad than a lot of the teams in the Premier league.
Their fans and the media – no I can’t tell the difference either – seem to think they will offer a sustained title challenge, I think they’re dreaming. As are other teams fans who think they’ll be in relegation bother – there is some garbage in the SPL and a lot of people who will want *Rangers to do well, mainly the guys overseeing our game and officiating it, so that won’t happen.
The biggest challenge they will have is convincing themselves that mid table ordinariness is part of the plan. But they can convince themselves that after 4 years as a club they are going for 55 league titles, so fantasy isn’t a problem for them, it reality that’s the kicker.
Sooner or later they’ll realise King is never putting any big money in, boycotting commercial partners is damaging in the short term and long term to the “club” and they will only be able to overtake Celtic if they find a mad benefactor willing to bankroll their delusions, get creative again with the accounting or we make a roaring mess of things and chuck away the advantages we have.”
They actually somehow finished third, but that doesn’t really tell the full story of the hilarity they provided this year. There have been the countless inept performances which result in furious phone calls to SSB from ra Bearzzzz, and a personal favourite as Kenny MacIntyre enquires weekly of Barry Ferguson on Sportsound in a tone that is half plaintive cry for help / half prostrate request for sense to be made of it all “What about Rangers?” Its niche stuff but it really is one of the most delicious streams of tears out there and I advise you all to get some.
They began with the “Going for 55” banter banners, saw the total collapse of their marquee signing strategy – Barton, Kranjcar and Rossiter all fell out of sight quicker than that wee “Rangers” sign they put up on their wee garden centre marquee for the AGM a few years ago, had the remarkable resignation of their manager, followed by his not resignation, followed by “naw, you definitely resigned mate”, followed by “I definitely didnae, I’ll see youse in court” of Warbiola, went through Murty’s hand stands, the 1 point trophy celebrations at Celtic Park, the Partick pitch invasion for “securing” European football, which had of course already been secured – well a qualifying round anyway. Then there is the off the pitch goings on at various court rooms spilling out more juicy detail than a pair of tight shorts on Kim Kardashian’s behind … I really could go on and on
One of the most delectable parts of their entire shambles since 2012 is the conscious and deliberate divorce from reality all board, management and supporters at Ibrox go through so as to never to acknowledge what they are; a mediocre team living hand to mouth with little to no prospect of returning to former glories – the cognitive dissonance between reality and what they tell themselves among “*rangers fans must be off the scales.
Dave’s war chest chat has all but dissolved and he’s now being lauded for doing what every club does – use money raised from season tickets to fund its player budget. What a guy!
Of course the old *rangers were our enemies as regardless of how it was done we were usually two quite closely matched teams fighting it out for major honours in Scotland. This new version only exist in my consciousness at the moment to provide hilarity. As a team or a club I don’t take them or those in charge remotely seriously and am glad they exist for precisely that reason – they are funny. Like the best comedy, it’s even funnier because the protagonists play it all so straight, never in on the joke. Alan Partridge isn’t trying to be funny, but the comedy comes from his misplaced senses of himself running up against reality. Likewise *rangers. With their “Going for 55” and “best squad in Scotland” chat they are trying to be serious, and that is the sweet spot for comedy right there – deluded and unaware of how far they have drifted from reality, they have become a classic comedy type like a David Brent, Alan Partridge or perhaps more apt given their economic reality, Rab C Nesbitt
“Kilmarnock. I’m going to predict Kilmarnock every year until it happens. Along with St Johnstone, Ross County & Caley Thistle they play in virtually empty grounds and bring nothing to the table.
They have lost the few fans they had and their entire existence seems almost futile, it would just be cheaper to run subsidised buses to Ibrox.
If they were relegated and never seen again would anyone miss them? I do feel sorry for that one fan they have who does rants on Youtube but they’d be as well putting him in the team for all the quality they have.”
Again, I was wrong here, Elbows McCulloch has done well there to be fair, and they ended up not being the most depressing team to have in the league, in part as Ajer has been developing well there. Caley Thistle took that honour and rightly went down, much to the disappointment of their fan. Don’t Haste ye back, you and your shitey wee ground won’t be missed, I’d rather sit and stare at the sea you can spot on the TV than watch your hammer throwers kick lumps out of us. Plus, that handball.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the cups and how some other predictions turned out