I indulged in a bit of radio call-in listening last night to hear how the other side are dealing with their recent implosion. Blame flows in all directions when aspirational clubs win nothing and perspective is difficult to find.
Steven Gerrard is in his second season as a manager, most of his players have won little or nothing in their careers. As a club, this is only their second season playing two games a week for months on end. Contrast this to Celtic, which has years of corporate learning ingrained into the fabric of Lennoxtown.
Celtic know what work to do at the margins to ensure players can deliver at the weekend as well as on European duty. They learned this through many seasons of fine-tuning. They know what training and rest is required, what nutrition works best and how to motivate players to continue to achieve.
It is usually fans who have not kicked a ball for decades that accuse players of not trying or caring enough when they suffer a bad result against a weaker team. In fact, football is far more nuanced. Players are not machines and never will be. Get the preparation 10% wrong and even the best are liable to lose.
It is the manager’s job to know this and to find the words to explain what went wrong, while keeping an eye on the next challenge. Steven Gerrard is not alone in expressing his despair at players’ inconsistencies, but in doing so, he is building his own gallows. Leave that chat to those who only know how to shout from this sides, but know nothing about dominating an opponent on the field.
It has been a while, but you and I have seen things go wrong at Celtic, as they will do again. When it happens, don’t be like Steven and his ‘The players are not good enough” fans. Newco players are, in fact, performing well above reasonable expectations. That they will forever struggle to win a trophy is not their fault.