Now, when you took the job on, you knew it would be hard, you were getting paid far more than the other contractors, and you recognised and accepted that. The supervisor would, you were told, be a lot less lenient with you, but you accepted it was all part of the deal. Your only expectation was that it would be a level playing field, and the supervisor would be fair and honest in his dealings with you.
So, when this happens repeatedly, how do you react, how long before you begin to get demoralised by that treatment? You are getting the big money, so onlookers tell you to get on with it. You’re on the big bucks, so suck it up and show you are better than them. After all, that is why you are getting the money. No sympathy to be had here, just do the job you are paid for.
So now apply this same logic to any player currently playing in the first team squad for Celtic. They are the big cheeses of the SPL, on the big money and carrying that full weight of expectation. Their sponsors, the season book holders, cannot accept that the constant provocation of the supervisor of their job, the referee, can possibly affect them. Not to mention the constant moans at even the slightest dip below the expectations they have for them. However, they are only human and no amount of cash at the end of the week helps them cope with the lack of a level playing field, and the often unrealistic expectations of the sponsors.
Can you honestly say that you could cope with this, without it affecting you? How long before it wears you down to a weary acceptance. This is how things are, so what is the point of fighting it? It is how things are in this league, and other than wishing you were elsewhere, there is very little you can do. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not invoking some plea to feel sorry for them, but I do think we need to have a good hard look at how it impacts on their mental state and confidence.
Most of these guys have never experienced anything like this. They are football players, who expect to be given the facilities and on field protection to use their god given abilities to play the game. Something denied them simply because they have chosen to play for Celtic. Look at the expression on the face of Andy Hinkel, when penalised for a non existent foul on Kenny Miller in the second half of Sunday’s game. It is a look of bewilderment. He quite simply, cannot believe it.
As a Celtic fan, not only are you aware of how it is, you most likely half expect it. After all, it has always been so. You carry this feeling with you and would give every ounce of your being to be in a position to do something about it.
These guys do not carry that same burden. They cannot possibly have the same feeling as you, as they were not born into this. Sure they might have heard it suggested, but now they are living it, in each and every game they have played in Scotland this season. They may even, as others have in the past, eventually share your passion, but not at this juncture in their fledgling Celtic careers.This cannot and does not excuse some of the dreadfully poor performances this season, but it cannot be ignored. To look at performances in isolation, without taking the whole picture into account, is quite simply unfair.
Some talk of a lack of spine or bottle, but do not forget, that any attempt to fight back, is immediately met with the upmost contempt or hostility. You need look no further than Sunday for evidence of that. Look at the sending off. Was that not merely retaliation for him having the temerity to question a decision before hand? How many players this season have been booked for daring to suggest that their treatment was not merited? For instance, the Keane welcome to Scotland yellow card against Dundee United.
Look at the reaction created last week by the media, at the very suggestion that Celtic would dare to ask questions about the validity of earlier decisions? Can these players ever believe that they would be able to speak honestly, or even more fight their corner? I think not.
So before you start venting your spleen directly at the players, or banging it out on your keyboard, give a little thought for those players and the position they find themselves in. Not sympathy, but a bit more understanding, of the circumstances that are affecting them, and the impact that is likely to have on them.
They may not turn out to be the best ever to represent the hoops, but without your support and the benefit of at least a semblance of fair play, there is no chance that we will ever honestly be able to judge it.