There is significant pleasure this morning that Juventus are out of the Serie A Champions League spots. As prime protagonists in the European Super League fiasco, the definitive poster boys for cheating, as well as claiming titles that are not actually theirs (cough), they deserve all the antagonism coming their way. More than all this, however, we all like to see a successful club taken down a peg.
Apart from when it is us, of course, there was nothing pleasant about going from 12 trophies in a row to an empty season. Like Juventus, Celtic looked imperious a year ago on securing nine titles in a row. I am of the view that fans of most other clubs have a milder form of dislike for Celtic than Newco/Oldco, it is certainly true of Aberdeen, Hibs, Dundee United and I suspect even Hearts fans. Those of a couple of teams from my native Lanarkshire will forever be the holdouts. Notwithstanding an occasional fondness for Celtic, every other club and set of fans in Scotland wanted our run to stop. We became the greatest scalp in Scottish football history.
Success like this was great for Celtic and Juventus, and lousy for all other clubs, but it was also great for competitions in both countries. Every cup competition in Scotland from 2016 until Ross County knocked us out of the League Cup in November had an intensity the sponsors could not dream about.
Great sport requires great champions but the greatest sport is when the greats lose. I watched the World Snooker Championship this month and noted the only finals mentioned on TV that involved six-times winner Steve Davis were the two he lost, to Dennis Taylor and Joe Johnson. The former’s win ranking in the top TV sporting moments of the decade.
Those two Davis loses were a blip, he won the next three at a canter. Great champions also know how to recover. I expect no less from Celtic.