We have a recurring theme on here: never make excuses before an event. Allow players, the manager, or anyone connected with a performance an opportunity to make an excuse for a failure, and they will take it. Before a game, I don’t like to hear complaints about a plastic pitch, hopeless referees or injuries. Be ready, or don’t be at Celtic.
Yesterday, Mick Beale told the media “We’re competing against the odds if you like. In general, if you look at any league in the world, the team that spends the most is first. So, we have to compete against the odds because we’re not going to spend the most money.”
This is sport. If you want to compete with only 50/50 odds, go home after the coin toss. There are some narrow openings for this kind of chat in football. I would let Ange away with it in the Champions League, where we have no expectation of winning. But here, in Scotland, I’d march any Celtic manager out of town for throwing excuses for failure around.
Losers lose not because they have fewer resources, but because they have a loser mentality – and that’s a few days after listening to a self-help coach who recently picked himself up from a cell bunk after a DUI conviction! Can you imagine what they would the mood would be like if they didn’t have that pep talk?
While we’re on the subject of the other lot measuring themselves against Celtic…. John Lundstam gave a really nuanced interview yesterday. “It is one game, they turned up and we didn’t. I think the combination for that didn’t complement each other well. It looks like there is a massive gap but I don’t think there is a massive gap.”
Compared to his manager, this is faultless. To you and me, Celtic dominated, but there was only one goal in it, they hit the post and really should have converted the rebound. By objective measures, the gap was narrow.
There is a problem here, though. Being narrowly worse than the team you need to be better than is almost as bad as being miles worse. Winners can have planned improvements, losers have a responsibility to break-up even good teams, sometimes sack even good managers that reach European finals, because being narrowly worse is to fail.
There is a combined message from these two interviews: a team that is worth less money came close against powerful champions, which is respectable. Being second to this Celtic team is respectable. It is where they are in the food-chain and where they are likely to remain unless something incredible happens. Maybe the Qataris will buy them! (Joke, honestly, no one with real money is interestined in Scottish clubs). Ibrox has had a buyer from Motherwell, then Hamilton. Can’t you see, it’s circling the Larkhall sinkhole!
There is a few years of this type of chat to come before someone levels with their fans. Second place with a puncher’s chance is where they are. Take it or leave before your side’s runner up medals are awarded.