Sunday, 3 August 2014

No More Heroes

No more heroes

Those of you of a certain age will recall a punk band who went by the name of the Stranglers. One of their biggest hits was called ‘No more heroes’ and the song was simultaneously a rebuke of empty celebrity culture and the lack of genuine heroes in the money grabbing culture of the time. It appeared on one of the music channels this week and in the wake of Celtic’s abysmal display in Warsaw got me thinking. It contains the lyric…

Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?
He got an ice pick
That made his ears burn
Whatever happened to dear old Lenny?
The great Elmyra, and Sancho Panza?
Whatever happened to the heroes?

In the wake of events in Warsaw, social media was as ever alive with various opinions about the reasons for Celtic’s poor display. These ranged from lack of investment in the team, replacing quality players with inferior ones and the qualifiers coming too early in the season. One thread though talked worryingly of a ‘disconnect’ between the players and the fans. One fan said… ’For the first time in my life I don’t feel any particular warmth towards a Celtic team. None of them is my ‘hero’. This is concerning and is symptomatic of the frustration some fans are feeling at the moment. The perception that the club is holding onto serious money while the quality of the team is declining is fairly widespread. Few can deny that the departure in recent seasons of players such as Wanyama, Wilson, Hooper and Ledley has affected the team negatively. Particularly as players coming in such as Balde, Boerrigter and Pukki have yet to make a significant contribution. Virgil Van Dijk is the only recent signing who looks Celtic class. Rightly or wrongly, many fans are feeling a sense of frustration at the lack of activity in the transfer market and if the club loses more quality players before the transfer window closes, that frustration could well turn to anger. The drubbing in Warsaw followed by a virtual second string team being blasted 6-1 by Spurs has left many concerned about the direction the club is taking. Friendly matches may be little more than fitness exercises but every defeat Celtic suffer hurts the fans and to have lost 10 goals in the past 2 matches is unacceptable no matter which 11 players represented the club.

Next week’s return tie with Legia Warsaw has the potential to bring these frustrations to a head. Defeat will mean no Champions League football this season and in all honesty the team as it stands looks ill equipped for the challenges of the group stages. An aggregate victory over Legia, unlikely as it is, would at least allow time for the new manager to shape his team and perhaps bring in some quality and experience. More importantly, it would assuage the growing anger among many fans that the club is sacrificing the quality of the team on the pitch at the altar of finance. Of course we all want a well-run and solvent club but there must surely be scope to bring in one or two experienced players who can go straight into the first team and excite the fans? Our recent history is littered with players who would have done a job for Celtic being allowed to slip through our fingers due to the perceived parsimony of the board. Another aspect of the current situation at Celtic Park is that the outlets Celtic use to communicate with fans (Website, Celtic View and Celtic TV) speak in bland sound-bites which tell the support very little. In the wake of the defeat to Spurs in Finland the website spoke of ‘disappointment’ at the defeat. Friendly or not, ‘Embarrassment’ would have been a better word.

Of course those who run Celtic can point to a club which dominates Scottish football and is challenging for its fourth consecutive title this season. The club is in good health financially and when compared to the dark days of the early 1990s is positively thriving. Having followed Celtic in the 1990s I recall well some of the crushing disappointments of that era. That era also saw humiliating defeats in Europe and shock defeats in domestic football but we had heroes and we had faith that things would get better. The board then failed to read the writing on the wall and fan power helped bring about the change we all knew was necessary. Today’s frustrations are rooted in a feeling from some that the club is taking the fans for granted and that is never healthy.

The next few weeks will set the tone for the coming season and nothing would please me more than seeing the side improve and benefitting from some overdue investment. Our new manager will enjoy his honeymoon period a while longer but he too must step up and show he is no mere ‘yes’ man. Down throughout our history we have witnessed players who entertained us and played the Celtic way. From Gallagher, McGrory, Tully and Johnstone to Dalglish, McStay and Larsson we have always had our heroes. Even in the bleaker periods of our history the fans had their heroes who gave them entertainment and hope for the future. To hear some fans talk of a ‘disconnect’ with the team is worrying and one can only hope it’s a temporary frustration born of poor early season form. Celtic is capable of incredible things when the team and support fuse as one. We need to get back to that. We need our heroes.



1 comment:

  1. Brown and Commons are potential heroes , but in a squad of kids and journey men what chance do they have ? I really want us to get through on Wednesday in classic Celtic style ,but if we don't I will not cry for the board and their balance sheet .