Celtic have not done anything wrong for many years, either on or off the pitch. This season, however, the appearance of infallibility has fallen away on both counts.
At the beginning, considering the lack of viewers seeing it first hand, this was to be a season that will be remembered for a long time. The season that Celtic made history during. Instead, for all the wrong reasons, it seems like it will be remembered – at least from Celtic’s viewpoint.
In the transfer market, costly errors were made, with goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas (£4.5 million) and striker Albian Ajeti (£5 million) nowhere close to the required standard.
The acquisition of £ 3m from Motherwell, on the other hand, was a win for David Turnbull. The only problem is that it took him until December to appear regularly, and for Celtic, his arrival alongside Ismaila Soro turned things around.
Celtic flew to Ibrox last week on something of a high after the demonstrations died down and goodwill was slowly restored. While, considering the excellent performance and disappointing outcome, the 1-0 loss may not have done the reverse, the subsequent trip to Dubai seems to have drained the patience of Celtic fans with Parkhead’s hierarchy.
The Celtic board angered us even more by sticking by the man who managed it all, with many supporters still angry that their team had been knocked out of the Champions League, Europa League and even the Betfred Cup against Ross County in humiliating fashion, not to mention trailing Rangers by a large margin in the Premier League.
Their decision to back Neil Lennon, commendable as it was for their loyalty, must now be preceded in the second half of the season by a severe attack on Rangers if they are not to go down in the history of the club forever as the men who blew “the ten”
Indeed, after sanctioning the trip to Dubai, which has attracted the wrath of fans and politicians alike due to its timing, they arguably need such a run now more than ever.
Celtic argued that the pre-season training camp is one they conduct every season, while noting the very glaring novelty of a deadly pandemic this season. But, to say the least, the timing of the outing, when the rest of the country is facing a national lockout, seems crass.
It looks bad enough from a PR viewpoint that the players jetted off to the sun shortly after the Old Firm loss, which left them 19 points in the table, without taking into account the photographs and videos that soon emerged on social media showing Neil Lennon and Captain Scott Brown enjoying a beer or two by the pool.
Given the struggles faced by the overwhelming majority of those remaining at home, however, it’s no surprise that heckling came from supporters who paid hundreds or even thousands of pounds for the privilege of watching their team stumble from the comfort of their sofa across the campaign through stream.
Celtic could hardly use the ensuing political furor when the entire focus of the club should be on saving what little hope they still have of winning a now unlikely tenth consecutive league title.
In a row, the league title. Instead, in the case of Lennon, manager Lennon and players like Callum McGregor were forced to protect the training camp by passing on the club line on the advice of the Scottish government regarding the trip to the United Arab Emirates.
Celtic insists that, while most would admit that they went against their spirit, they did not violate any laws, although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon herself countered that advice two months after it was given in the fast-changing world can no longer be considered important.
Ms. Sturgeon went further, posing the issue of whether footballers should follow the tougher guidelines to ensure that in such a situation the continuation of elite sport in a country that has already practically ground to a halt will be pursued.
Indeed, it seems that Celtic’s obvious violations of the hotel use policy of the Joint Response Party are now being cited by Kilmarnock as they challenge their own fines for breaching the protocols of Covid 19.
The trip is important to give the Celtic players much needed warm weather training in their legs, Lennon and McGregor might argue,