If you are a Celtic supporter you got to see three games at St Mirren Park, and another on CelticTV. We’ve got one more to go, but it’s essentially done.
On top of that, we’ve already played one European tie and later tonight (I’m writing this at a little after 6) we’ll play another one.
We had three strips released, that awful annual ceremony of spending which accompanies season ticket renewal time, as if people don’t have enough to buy.
We’ve also brought in some players, and we’ve even seen one banned already, which is a new one even for the SFA.
Our signings look decent, although we’ll all feel better when a left back joins them.
Overall, Celtic looks in bloody good shape for the coming season.
If we make the Champions League groups the fans will be expecting some signs of ambition in the transfer market, but that aside we have few complaints about how things are going.
Our midfield is very strong.
Our defence could be better.
But if Leigh Griffiths keeps on improving, and Ciftci can behave himself I think these two guys will bring out the best in each other and we’ll be well on course for a domestic treble and advancing in Europe.
If I had to summarise how I think most Celtic fans feel right now, based on what I’ve read online and those I’ve talked to, I’d say we are content rather than euphoric.
I think that’s a reasonable assessment of things as they stand, and, of course, being content isn’t a bad thing at all.
Across town, well, friends … they are euphoric.
Over there, at Ibrox, they didn’t even bother with content on the emotional scale.
They went from despair to elation over a summer without a single person outside of their football club having even the remotest idea why.
Theirs was a pre-season so odd that it is positively mind-bending they’re all so chuffed about how it has gone.
I don’t understand them at all.
In place of their usual pre-season tour was … nothing at all.
This time last year they were over in America, playing the cream of local college football.
We laughed at the time, but that was a tough shift compared to this one.
This year, they played a couple of closed door friendlies, one of which saw their team beaten by the Spurs Under 17’s, and a single match in front of their own fans, which ended in a 1-0 defeat at a half-full Ibrox, against Burnley.
The media has treated this like it is perfectly normal.
Indeed, The Daily Record has been at every game they’ve played, from the senior matches right down to their own youth teams, putting it all on their website as if they and Sevco still had commercial ties, like the one whereby they broadcast one of their games abroad.
Sevco have signed a ream of players, but they are in a position no different to the one they were in last year, trying to make free transfers and cut-rate deals sound exciting.
They have an entire club to rebuild and this isn’t wholly a bad way to do it; on the cheap, as it were.
But ask yourself this; if the likes of Waghorn, Tavenier, Holt and the rest had signed for, say, St Johnstone, how many of us would have cared?
How much of the media would have given a toss?
Very few, I’d bet.
The fact is – and look, this is just a fact, okay? I am not stirring it here – these are lower league calibre signings and nothing more.
The manager might be able to mould them into a team, but this is a far cry from the type of footballer Sevco fans were expecting to see.
Yet in spite of the poor class of player brought in, and in spite of not having seen their team in a usual pre-season of testing games, and though they are relying only on what little they have read in hopelessly biased club reports, or from the hopelessly biased national newspaper which laps up every Level 5/Sevco press release as if what they were getting were the Ten Commandments, these people, many of whom bought season tickets on the basis that they were headed for the Promised Land, are celebrating as if deliverance has already happened.
Dear oh dear oh dear.
I do love them when they are like this, all optimism and high fiving each other.
When the bubble bursts, as it has done consistently for their young club, the squealing is palpable.
This has been the pattern for the last three years now and it makes me smile so, because we know how this story ends; with disaster, with embarrassment, with us laughing like Hell and ordering double dips of chocolate and vanilla with our lime jelly.
Having warmly embraced the tax cheat King, and his plans (which none of us have seen) I do wonder who they are going to blame when this one winds up in the shredder.
Mike Ashley, probably.
At a push they could do their George Osborne bit, and blame everything that’s wrong in their wee world on the people who were running things before them, but that has a half-life in sport that political parties don’t need to worry about.
This isn’t a five year term, at the end of which you can bluff and buy your way to another one.
This is Scottish football.
More than that, this is Sevco.
This is “what have you done for me lately?”
Nobody at Ibrox has time to spare, let alone time to waste.
If you believe the spin then everything in the garden is coming up roses, but anyone who’s involved in horticulture (I was a parks boy myself) knows how you grow those; with lavish helpings of bullshit.
This time last year the fans were euphoric, buying tickets and looking forward to watching a team they were absolutely convinced was comprised of high qualify footballers who were going to take the club to a new level.
How did that turn out?
The structural problems underneath this year, as with last – a lack of finance, deals with Sports Direct that are appallingly one sided, no auditor, no NOMAD, not yet on the stock market and so incapable of fresh fund raising – those things haven’t just gone away.
The smell of them overpowers that of the roses and what’s been spread over them, but it seems only some of us can smell it.
The contrast between these two clubs, and their pre-season preparations, could not be greater.
One is professionally run and in good shape for the new season.
The other is a disreputable shambles, teetering on the brink.
The supporters of the well run club are generally happy, with the usual grumbles that go with having hit a ceiling on your expectations and wanting more.
The supporters of the other club are dancing in the streets as if this was Christmas, and all their birthday’s come at once, as the ship on which they are sailing, holed already below the waterline and taking in water, drifts towards the fathoms.
The more things change, brothers and sisters …
Welcome to the next instalment of the Show That Never Ends.
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