It’s been six weeks since Celtic have had something to play for: 1 May, a five goal win over Dundee. Since then we wound down the remaining Premiership games before cranking up a fortnight ago at our new second home in Paisley, but it all comes into focus on Wednesday at Celtic Park, when we are expected to humble apparent Champions League whipping boys from Iceland.
People at Celtic have complained for years about having to play such important games in the middle of July, but I’ve never bought that argument. If we have to face Legia-type opposition later this month, we can’t have an early enough test. The challenge is known, it’s the responsibility of the club to be ready.
Stjarnan are likely to be the least resourced team we will face this summer, but if we get a comfortable win on Wednesday, these two games, as well as the friendlies against Eibar and Rennes, should provide ample opportunity to physically and tactically ready for the real test.
A few weeks back we discussed the game of brinksmanship involving Greece and it’s analogy in Scottish football, “Those sitting at the Syriza side of the table know they may be marching their citizens off the edge of a cliff”.
8 days ago Tsipras won his referendum mandate but quickly accepted that you can’t play poker if you don’t have any cards, never mind aces. I wondered if he hoped to ‘lose’ the referendum. I wonder if others hoped the SFA would find ‘against’ them a few months back. As we mentioned, it was “one of the classic failures of leadership – telling people what they want to hear in order to gain power, without any way of delivering on the promises made”.
If the Greeks had said ‘Yes’ Tsipras could have capitulated, blaming the will of the people. If the SFA said ‘not Fit and Proper’, others could have declined to invest, blaming Peter Lawwell and his ‘cronies’ at Hampden. I’m sure you could write the script yourself.
Populism’s easy, until you are given control, then it’s harder than granite. We’ll see the same lesson played out in Scottish football in the months to come. You need five aces in your hand to play poker with a billionaire, even then, don’t make assumptions.