Two Very Different Pictures

celtic-parkSo that was the pre-season, eah?

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.

Pah!

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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Comments on Two Very Different Pictures

  • castlerockson

    As I have consistently stated, Sevco and their meejah lapdogs are writing off Ian Murray and Saint Mirren. Any manager who has kept a part time out fit in an essentially full time league for two years knows his way around the block. the big difference is that Ian Murray has a better calibre of player in his squad this year.

  • Steve Bowers

    I fancy the dons to run you a VERY close second and perhaps pick up a trophy. McInnes has a good set up going and if the result in Croatia is anything to go by we could have a good wee team

  • Garry Cowan

    Just a quick thought if it was Celtic who were signing has been and lower league nobodies would this be celebrated by the sevco sorry the Scottish media? We signed a certain nobody called lubo and got slaughtered where is the parity?

  • 1984

    James, this show will end and all too soon: “League Reconstruction” is the cry! Doncaster and the Killie Chairman have set the ball rolling already. As soon as it becomes clear that the Huns are doing “the no promotion” again, we’ll get a 16 team SPFL. The SMSM will rubbish the current set-up (“who wants to watch Celtic winning all the time!) and orchestrate the bogus clamour to pull up the Huns no matter where they finish in the Championship. The ‘glib & shameless one’ knows this already and that’s why he ain’t spending, he doesn’t need to!

  • Bobby carroll

    I hope, like most Celtic fans, Aberdeen DO run celtic close, it makes for an interesting season Steve.
    The positive reaction, on most of the Celtic message boards, regarding the Dons result in Croatia, gives an insight into a mindset, that desires a greater challenge.
    BTW, I think if Rangers get past Hibs on Saturday, they’re a stick on for the Petrofac.

  • Chrisbhoy

    I hope they do Steve, they gave us a good run last season and have had a great start to their season this time round, i have to begrudgingly give McInnes his due (he is a future Sevco manager after all), he has got Aberdeen playing better than they have been for a decade or more and long may it continue…..weren’t Aberdeen one of the teams that would go to the wall in Scottish Football Armageddon lol hows that one working out for the MSM

  • Pemmaj

    Comedy gold, brilliant James

  • http://Windows7 Larsson7

    I mentioned to my friend after discussing tonight’s win in Europe, Ian Murray did a great job at Dumbarton with part time players,with full time players they may be a dark horse in that league,will watch with interest,but then again the ways and strays that have arrived at morder from the championship in England,should prevail according to the MSM…………..

  • John

    Personally I am gutted that Celtic missed the boat with all these cheap superstars who will be strutting their stuff in the CL in the very near future! Sack the board time??

    In all seriousness though, it is really quite funny watching them go on about walking the league, back to their ahem rightful place, all with not a hint of irony or self awareness??

    I actually think W & W cold be a decent management team for them but king midas they are not, I’d wager both Hibs and St Mirren will finish ahead of them in the league.

    Great result last night, although a wee scare to start with, what else is new eh? middle of the night getting up to watch the bhoys here in Melbourne is always a pain, but the victories make it all worthwhile. HH

  • Gav

    @Steve whilst I don’t want Celtic to ever lose in any competition , obviously, I would welcome a sustained Dons challenge. Having grown up in the 70s and 80s it was a great time for Scottish football. Celtic ,Hearts, United and The Dons all had excellent teams across that era and you were never sure of who was favourite to win the league. This all changed when the Bank of Scotland teamed up with an opportunistic narcissist to stifle the life out of our game by throwing other peoples money at the club formerly known as Rangers. Combine this with Thatcher’s decimation of Teacher’s pay and conditions, which effectively ended schools football and choked the traditional flow of Scottish football talent to the professional game and led to us losing the talents of many great Teacher football coaches, and our game was a bust. Suddenly, every team tried to replace the lost talent with overpriced average foreigners, getting into hock with the very bank whos favouritism of a, till then, very average Ibrox outfit had started the whole rotten episode. Sadly all those teacher coaches are long gone and their knowledge and enthusiasm for the boys game went with them as they had none to pass that knowledge on to. Fortunately the rotten bank, the narcissist and the average team from Ibrox are also now gone but the Celts, the Dons, the Jambo’s and the Arabs are still with us. It will take a while yet but,given that Celtic traditionally only ever spend what they can get away with, it may be that we are entering a time when your team and their two eastern counterparts rise again and Scottish football will flourish. I certainly hope so and welcome the challenge. I just hope we get the 10 before it though, but if not then the game as a whole will be all the better for it.

  • DhenBhoy

    Apparently they wanted payment terms on 175k and also put in a record breaking bid of 100k for Scott Allan..

    My sides can’t take much more of this.

    Off to the doc’s to get some stitches put in.

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