Tangible proof, if it were needed, that Gordon Strachan’s ill-advised, albeit carefully considered, comments this past week will be turned directly against Celtic, came when Walter Smith used them to support his hardly surprising view that the idea of anti-Celtic bias in Scottish football is a myth.
The spin being applied is interesting and disarmingly simple. Pained denial of any preposterous notion of a grand conspiracy is being used as a smokescreen against the individual questionable instances of bias, or at the very least gross negligence or incompetence, or both, which are matters of fact and record. And no amount of collective or individual Celtic rebuttals will easily deflect Smith and his backers from that course.
It could reasonably be argued that Smith’s outburst is a sign that the pressure of playing catch-up against a resurgent Celtic, while battling his own club’s internal strife and the demands of competing on four fronts with a threadbare squad, is beginning to get to him. However, it is alarmingly predictable how desperately the drowning man grasped at the lifebelt of Strachan’s damaging remarks, blatantly using them to ramp up pre-derby tensions. Could it be that he sees such tensions and their propensity to downgrade the quality of tomorrow’s head-to-head as his team’s best chance against a Celtic that is at its best when the game is free-flowing.
The non-Celtic-minded lobby needs no encouragement; and more of the same can be confidently anticipated, from a variety of sources.
Now, Gordon is no fool and must have known the effect his comments would have. What, then, was his motivation?
Time may tell.