Rangers came away from Celtic Park after an emphatic 2-0 win on Saturday, but the media already is making excuses to undermine it…
Football is a funny old game. Sometimes things play along to some pre-determined script so rigidly it is no longer funny, nor predictable. Just look at Spurs against West Ham yesterday, the former hitting 3-0 and feeling safe enough to make a few changes, maybe try out new super signing Gareth Bale and that. Bale goes on to miss two sitters and the game finishes 3-3, yet somehow the result seemed almost destined when the first shot went wide.
Of course, there’s the more obvious examples, bigger teams will generally beat smaller teams but rarely a year goes by without a surprise or two. It’s 90 minutes in which anything can happen, and it’s glorious.
Naturally with Rangers having come away from Celtic Park with three points in the bag, excuses were going to be made. Copious egg all over the face of pundits and Hoops fans alike necessitated it. What was pre-match a forgone conclusion, became a far murkier thing after the fact – as the goal posts are moved again and again.
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Those players self-isolating? Absolutely key to Celtic’s play and formation, apparently. Their deep squad, punctuated by a wage bill dwarfing the entire rest of the League by a measure, seemingly counts for little but making up the numbers. It’s not a Rangers victory, it’s a Celtic loss, or so they want to paint it. Anything to avoid admitting they were bested by a superior team, with superior tactics, who just plain wanted it more.
We talked before about being wary over the Celtic injury/coronavirus list and, obviously, it would be a factor for any team. This is a reality for every club, in every season, however. It’s absolutely rare for a team to be so consistently at their absolute best for even a single game, let alone over the course of many games. The Gers, in fact, had a few players out too – notably Joe Aribo who almost certainly would have started had he been fit.
Excuses like these can only go so far, a fact at least many Hoops fans seem to acknowledge. A brief read through the Celtic social media this morning sees a refreshingly honest lack of hand-wringing and more acceptance of the real issues the club is facing. In a microcosm, it was a dire game for Celtic – they didn’t manage a single shot on target in 90 minutes and I honestly can’t remember the last Old Firm derby, at Park Head, where they had that dubious statistic to show.
However, despite being unbeaten in the League until that point, Celtic actually haven’t been playing well at all. Winning by late, often fortunate, goals papers over some poor performances against teams that should be being comprehensively put to bed. A funny old game indeed.
Instead of focusing on hypothetical situations, the media really should concentrate on the meteoric rise of the Gers under Steven Gerrard.
Note too, they can’t blame COVID for narrowly beating St Mirren or losing to some random Hungarian team, this was back when a full strength squad was both available and utilized. The savvy amongst the Celtic fans, all 5 of them, noticed the Rangers game wasn’t merely a one-off but a trend. Similarly, the Light Blues have been flying high this season and it’s getting harder to deny we look the business. The result was inevitable.
Instead of focusing on hypothetical situations in which Celtic may not have been so pathetic, the media really should concentrate on the meteoric rise of the Gers under Steven Gerrard. Late season inconsistency marred the campaign last year, true, but for me it was only just one year too soon – looking at where we are now compared to where we were before he arrived is staggering. I suppose, in a way, the fact this isn’t being talked of much is evidence of how natural it is for this Rangers team to sit on top of the pile.
Celtic, for their part, have little to moan about. COVID handed them a title as an undeserved gift last season and they’ve simply not been good enough this time round of their own accord. That’s the natural flow of football, no surprises, no shocks. The best team in Scotland is Glasgow Rangers and the best team won.