There’s something fundamentally dishonest about the ‘debate’ going on at Ibrox right now about whether or not to field a ‘weakened team’ for tomorrow’s game when they have a semi-final second leg. European next week.
They think they’re tricking us with this chatter?
First of all, it won’t happen. Second, the whole debate reeks of fear. Not the fear that RB Leipzig will kick them out, but the fear that they will arrive best at Parkhead and be sent home at the end of another hiding place.
Throughout the season, Ibrox denied that we had become the best team.
They sought, at every stage, to find excuses or excuses as to why their team is behind ours in the league, why they came to Celtic Park and were in leather, and why we went to Ibrox and we won.
They can use the Scottish Cup to try to convince themselves that they are different, but they know that it is by coming to us in a game to win that the question will be decided.
Because of course, if Celtic win, it’s the title race among Ibrox fans and certain sections of the media that will have to be… explained.
Their favorite team is, after all, in the semi-finals of the Europa League, so how come an Australian manager no one has ever heard of, and a team made up largely of players whose fans don’t can’t spell the names, have them beaten and in a league-winning way with room to spare?
“Oh, that’s easy,” they’ll say. “We played the decisive match at Celtic Park with half a team. If we had won that day…” and so fantasy will replace reality for another summer and they will be queuing and buying their tickets and wondering why in the end Celtic fans are convinced that Ange and his team sweep the boards and win the triple.
That’s why they’re talking about fielding a half-team…because to do otherwise could shatter the foundation that the Last Lie is built on. They must continue to believe it, because otherwise they could be confronted with the truth… and the truth hurts.
Ultimately, their manager clings to his own delusions and will likely play as close to a full team as possible. They will blame him for it if they lose tomorrow and then go out on Thursday.
Calls for his heads may even be renewed.
It doesn’t matter to us. We’re getting closer to that title, and whoever their side is, I expect us to sweep it. It’s been a momentous campaign for this team… and tomorrow they can do anything but end it. I expect them to do just that.