BOOS and jeers bouncing around a stadium on the south side of Glasgow in the vicinity of two o’clock this afternoon would be a sweet cacophony to the ears of Brendan Rodgers.
Not so welcoming was the shameful noise that emanated from a section of Celtic Park last weekend when there was the predictable and pitiful reaction from so-called supporters after an admittedly poor performance from the champions.
Anyone popping in from Mars would have been forgiven for believing they were witnessing a somewhat understandable, if overly poisonous, response from dismayed fans to their team hurtling towards expulsion from the top flight and banished to at least one year in oblivion.
Possibly, it may have been thought, those agitated followers had every right to vent their frustration and direct their ire at a manager and collection of players who had failed feebly to deliver and botched their attempts to achieve acceptable levels over the course of a lamentable, error-strewn season.
YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE…Brendan Rodgers acknowledges the Celtic support at Pittodrie after the champions’ 3-1 victory over Aberdeen.
No doubt our visitors from another planet would have been slightly taken aback if they had been informed the team boss and the players on the receiving end of the catcalls were actually in pole position in the Premiership and we were a mere three games into the league campaign.
Only three months earlier, the national stadium had been awash with green and white amid much merriment as the club celebrated a world record eighth domestic treble.
Our day-trippers may have headed back to their corner of the solar system a tad befuddled about what they had just seen and heard.
Preposterous doesn’t cover it.
A fortnight earlier, the Celtic supporters gathered in a corner of Pittodrie to applaud and cheer the same team boss and most of the same players following a highly creditable and hard-fought 3-1 triumph over dangerous opponents.
Unfortunately, there was a Viaplay League Cup exit sandwiched in between the games in the north east of the country and the east end of Glasgow and that wouldn’t have engendered too much bon homie among a group of supporters waiting to pounce on the merest slip.
They seized the opportunity as Rodgers and his players did their rounds of the pitch to acknowledge the backing of the massive percentage of the near-60,000 crowd, most of them thankfully mindful that their team possesses no God-given right to win every match.
THE LONG WALK…Brendan Rodgers and his players after the goalless draw with St Johnstone at Parkhead.
There are always unseen bumps along the road in the beautiful game. No-one gets an easy ride. From princes to paupers, no-one emerges from the womb and saunters through life without stubbing a toe once or twice. Likewise, in sport.
It’s how you react to adversity that really counts. Accommodating slaps on the back is the easy part. Tolerating the haranguing is a bit more complicated.
Brendan Rodgers is built for the criticism that comes with the job. He guided Liverpool to within a whisker of their first championship success in almost quarter of a century in season 2013/14 and was sacked in October 2015. He led Leicester City to their historic FA Cup success two years ago and received his P45 in April.
The Irishman doesn’t expect anyone to shed a tear for him. However, he may be more than a little perturbed about the reaction to the derision from a section of the the club’s own followers on young recruits to the cause such as Gustaf Lagerbiekle and Yang Hyun-jun, who played in the scoreless stalemate against St Johnstone, and Odin Holm and Kwon Hyeon-kyu, who were on the bench.
RESILIENT…Brendan Rodgers pays his tribute to the travelling support at Rugby Park.
Everyone has the undeniable right to their opinion. However, there is a time and a place to make your voice heard. Last Saturday afternoon at Celtic Park was neither the moment nor the location for such a sad and unwarranted demonstration which will no doubt be deplored by many among the Celtic support.
Such outpourings of venom and vilification from the stands can be heard at football arenas dotted around the UK on any given match day.
If Celtic get the job done in the noxious surroundings of Ibrox today, the decibel level from an enraged home support, still seething following the 5-1 midweek hiding in Eindhoven that triggered the boot from Europe’s elite competition, may well register on the Richter Scale.
Music to the ears of Brendan Rodgers and Co.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Rangers v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.