A Celtic apology to Sir Rod Stewart after rocker rumbled my flawed Rangers forecast – Hugh Keevins – Hugh Keevins

One year ago this month, a shell-shocked Celtic were hurtling towards the loss to Ross County in Dingwall that would put Neil Lennon out of his misery as manager.

Jordan White, the Staggies’ goalscorer who sealed his fate, became a rhyming slang for Celtic’s season as it went on a slalom-run out of control.

Supporter unrest had turned to public disorder outside the ground.

Contrast all of that with where Celtic stand today as they approach a game at Motherwell from the standpoint of having become league leaders.

The reason for the transformation Celtic have undergone over the last 12 months has been the arrival of boss Ange Postecoglou.

Pure and simple.


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The explanation for his success in halting Celtic from spiraling into despair was summed up by an answer he gave on television after Wednesday night’s dismantling of Rangers.

Journalists are prone to fits of amateur psychology, looking to delve into the meaning of life to discover what subconscious reaction might follow for a losing team after an honest-to-goodness going over.

And, incidentally, I plead guilty to several offenses on that score myself over the years.

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But Ange halted the conversation in its tracks when he said: “I don’t buy the psychological stuff.”

Peak Postecoglou, I would suggest.

Ange is about turning adversity into positivity. Standing on his own feet without the aid of psychobabble.

Show him a hurdle and he’ll see a challenge to his ability to manage. The loss of Tom Rogic and David Turnbull against Rangers? Matt O’Riley and Reo Hatate looked like an upgrade in the middle of the park.

Recruitment conducted more or less on his own? Hatate has now, in the space of half a game against Rangers, scored the same number of Old Firm derby goals Alfredo Morelos has managed in four years at Ibrox.

Turned down at the eleventh hour by Riley McGree? Sign an even better player in O’Riley.

For his next trick, Postecoglou, whose mantra is that league titles are not won until there is an arithmetical certainty about the champions, must deal with expectation.

Fan fervor reached ferocious heights on Wednesday and it will now multiply in intensity.

No-one realistically expected Celtic to be in this position, given Postecoglou’s starting-off point amidst the turmoil of last July.

But now there will be demands on manager and players that they stay where they are at Rangers’ expense.

Celtic have been solely responsible for Motherwell declaring record profits in their annual accounts, a surplus in excess of £3million after Turnbull’s transfer to Celtic Park.

The goodwill Celtic have deposited in the bank, following that stunning win over Rangers would get them a commendation from the International Monetary Fund.

Further deposits, not withdrawals, now become a necessity for Postecoglou, the Governor of the Bank of Celtic.

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Starting this afternoon at Fire Park.

In other news, I’ve been rumbled by Rod. Sorry, Sir Rod.

If you’re going to have the error of your ways pointed out to you then it might as well be done by a Knight of the Realm.

I wrote here a few weeks ago that I believed Giovanni van Bronckhorst would go through the remainder of the season without losing a game.

It was, of course, a perfectly sound, data-driven prediction undone by underachievers on Wednesday.

They’d flirted with defeat in
Aberdeen then struggled to beat Livingston by a single goal at Ibrox.

And they said with disaster in a draw at Dingwall last weekend before time and circumstances caught up with them at Celtic Park.

The circumstances being that Rangers were woeful on a night when Celtic were wonderful.

At which point Rodders got the mobile phone camera switched on for a selfie to mock my misguided meanderings.

At least Roderick, of whom I am a long-time fan, was being light-hearted.

Unlike the supporter who, in the depths of his disappointment, kept shouting at me on the radio that I had won the battle but I would assuredly not win the war.

I have no recollection of playing against Rangers but if I am on a share of the win bonus then I will happily send Celtic my bank details.

But van Bronckhorst is the one who now has to concern himself with battles and wars, starting today when Hearts visit Ibrox.

The manager’s team selection and failure to alter strategy in the heat of conflict at Celtic Park have now been called into question.

Might Borna Barisic not have been better off the park when it was only 2-0 rather than leave him to be guilty in a third goal for Celtic?

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Might Leon Balogun not have been a better starter than Calvin Bassey after the defensive shambles against Ross County in the game before the derby?

Might fans not query why the manager could say the players did not look as if they were ready for Celtic?

Might Aaron Ramsey not have made a nine-man bench after the publicity surrounding his arrival from Juventus?

Now the Welshman makes his debut today under scrutiny rather than having a free pass. Ramsey instantly has to prove he’s not appearance without substance.

Rangers need to show they understand that needing to be up to it is not the same as being up to it.

A test they failed at Celtic Park.

And the manager’s miserable night wasn’t helped by being interviewed by television before and after the game in what looked like an unlit alleyway to ensure advertising for the Premiership’s official sponsor was blocked from view.

This is getting silly and leaving an honorable man in an invidious position when he’s other things to concern him.

As for Sir Rod and my flawed forecast, I can only say every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.

Or, in my case, every skeptic has a past, every cynic has a future.

It’s only rock ‘n’ roll. We should have a snifter the next time you’re in town.

I’ll pay. I’ve heard Ronnie Wood say you’re tighter than two coats of paint. Love to Penny.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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