I’ve been to a few non-Celtic games over the years and always found is striking the different reaction mid-table teams have to a defeat compared to how we react. There is simply not the expectation that every game has to be won. For most of the last 40-odd years Celtic have been nip-and-tuck with a direct opponent at the top of the league, so a single defeat can have a significant bearing on league title prospects.
Even when we were not involved in a close league race, the desire to win by an astonishing number of points provided an edge, whereas, back in the 90s, the chasm between Celtic and the top was made increasingly unbearable by each passing defeat.
This season is different. We’ve dropped 10 points in 10 games but substantial evidence exists that the team is making solid progress, a fact not disputed by the support, even as they left Celtic Park on Saturday. For most, the distress of defeat has tempered.
We’re two points ahead of three teams at the top of the league, with a game in hand, which makes this the most competitive SPL ever. The gap between second and second last is just six points, St Mirren who sit second bottom, would be level on points with joint-second St Johnstone had they won the game between these two earlier this month.
All this honest competition has resulted in a rise in average attendances for most clubs during “Armageddon”. It’s too easy to poke fun at the miscalculations of the SPL and SFA chief executives who believed the game needed a fatally flawed giant in the top flight. Instead, what it needed was genuine competition, which we have, to a degree.
Hibs, Aberdeen and St Johnstone are all two points from the top of the table while Inverness and Killie are only one win below them. Can you imagine how good a league this would be without the last remaining over-sized behemoth?
The SPL didn’t need Rangers, in fact, it is a better, more competitive league without them. The same goes for Celtic. We are not good for the league and do nothing for Aberdeen, United, Hibs or clubs who want nothing but a sporting chance in the game. Many of these clubs seem to have Stockholm Syndrome; locked into the belief that they need to be with their tormentors.
If I was writing a blog about any of these clubs I’d tell Celtic to go find themselves some fantasy football league and let the rest of the country get back to a proper sporting endeavour. They have nothing to lose but their loser labels.
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