You detect a notion in some circles that Newco might beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final next week, if only Scott Brown was removed from the equation. This belief is based on two football games, the corresponding fixture last season, when Newco prevailed on penalty kicks, and the more recent league draw at Celtic Park. On both occasions Celtic played well within themselves.
By any measure, we could lose on Sunday. Ross County (8th in the table) took a point on Sunday, while Partick Thistle and Newco have both drawn at Celtic Park in the last five weeks. Football regularly provides random results, and Celtic are due one. You will also share concerns we all have about refereeing decisions denying us the treble, as happened on Scottish Cup semi-final day two years ago.
But is a referee fails to award Celtic a penalty when an opponent punches the ball off the line, refuses to red card the player, then awards our opponents a penalty, and sends a Celtic player off, our chances of delivering the treble will likely perish again. None of this will have anything to do with Scott Brown.
We faced this lot in September without our talisman, Leigh Griffiths, who was injured. This created space for Moussa Dembele to score a hat-trick. What Moussa proved that day is that games are not determined by those who miss out, but by the attitude of those who take to the field.
Consider, for a moment, the attitude among the Celtic support, players and management since Sunday. There’s a sense of grievance there, a pulling together in the face of a clear injustice. It’s almost impossible to conjure up such a scenario when you’ve passed 40 games undefeated in the season, but here we are.
Let’s bring it onto the Hampden pitch.
The raffle winner of two tickets for the semi-final, courtesy of Celtic sponsor, Intelligent Car Leasing, has been informed but I’ve not had a confirmation email back – so check your inbox!!