Two games against Livingston, not Rangers, will decide Celtic’s fate regarding the league title.
And confirm boss Ange Postecoglou’s scientific theory about what makes the earth move in Scotland.
Since last Sunday, I’ve had this image of Ange and Gio Van Bronckhorst having coffee in that restaurant they like in Glasgow’s West End.
And Celtic’s manager saying to his Ibrox counterpart: “They’re kind of off the scale here, mate, don’t you think?”
I wrote here last week about the Old Firm fans positioning themselves at the point between apoplexy and hysteria.
Later that same day, after Celtic had drawn with Hibs at Easter Road, Ange put the environment he works in into his own words.
He said: “I get it. We didn’t win. The world’s collapsed. I understand that.”
That was Ange positioning himself at the point between exasperation and irritation.
I found Postecoglou’s sarcastic reference to global collapse quite funny, but he does have to remember that, for an awful lot of supporters, Celtic are their world.
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That’s why they went to the Arctic Circle the previous week to see their team play in a Europa Conference League tie that went badly wrong while they shivered.
Why tens of thousands took a half day off work and flocked to Celtic Park last November for a Europa League tie against
Ferencvaros that kicked off at 3pm on a Tuesday due to the COP 26 conference in Glasgow.
That’s why they’ll buy every ticket available for the Scottish Cup tie against Dundee United at Tannadice a week tomorrow, even
after Celtic refused to let the home club reduce admission prices.
And it’s also why Celtic fans will fill the Tony Macaroni Arena in Livingston today with their bottom lips trembling in case the Apocalypse is staged in West Lothian.
If the supporters think a draw’s a disaster and a defeat’s a catastrophe that’s their prerogative as paying customers.
And they’re in the right place for concern today, having already watched Celtic drop five points against Livingston in two matches.
I asked a Premiership player I know to sum up Livi. He took no time to replay that they were a “horrible” team to play against.
I took the quote to someone I know on David Martindale’s coaching staff and asked him to comment on the use of that word.
Without a second’s hesitation, he said it was a compliment to hard work and thought it was exactly what everyone at the club would want to hear said about them.
Celtic, therefore, don’t have a football match today. They have a mind game.
Livingston, unlikely as it may sound while being factually accurate, are Celtic’s worst nightmare.
They live inside the heads of the Celtic players who must now face the prospect of Livi finishing in the top six and being their opponents for a fourth time after the split.
Livingston have the numbers. Celtic have the neurosis.
It’s been that way since Lyndon Dykes used to terrorize them on a regular basis before he won a move to England and gained entry to the Scotland squad.
Never mind talk about budgets, profiles or what ought to be.
They’re in your face. They’re physical. And they’re not without quality on the ball at the same time.
Players believe in bogey teams, even more so when their own side have recently been affected by lethargy and the inevitable end to a scintillating run that was impossible to sustain on an indefinite basis.
It’s quite straightforward.
If Celtic can’t think of a way to overcome the collective who have risen to a league position by fighting for each other and utilizing a pitch that they alone like, then more crucial points will be dropped.
And Ange will be back to discussing tremors while people go apoplectic and hysterical in the background.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.