There are none so blind as those that cannot see.
The alternative of this old aphorism is more applicable to fans of Rangers and Celtic: There are none so blind as those that will not see.
Both clubs sit dominantly on top of their respective divisions in the SPFL. Yet fans of both view this position in different ways – and these views are based on illusions.
In Celtic’s case, manager Ronny Deila might not field a team of players that is better than his managerial predecessors were able to but he has still delivered domestic success and virtual hegemony of the Premiership title.
Yet Celtic fans are disgruntled. The reason? Deila has not delivered European success to Parkhead. This says far more about the delusion 21st century Celtic fans live under than their Norwegian manager’s abilities. The reality is that Celtic are no longer a potent European force, their recent famous and thoroughly deserved triumph over the mighty Barca notwithstanding. Those days are gone. Celtic supporters must get used to that. Who knows if they will ever return? In the tumultuous world of football, it cannot be ruled out. But right now, it is a pipedream. And claiming a trophy won 50 years ago places you in Europe’s elite in 2015 is risible stuff indeed.
The reality is that Ronny Deila might not be the best manager available or affordable to Celtic right now but he is certainly delivering reasonable and recognisable success to the Parkhead club. If Europe is a stretch too far, that is down to where Celtic are right now and not a result of gross incompetence on Deila’s part.
Across the city, Mark Warburton’s meteoric start has been brought down to earth, firstly by a humbling at the hands of a far wilier St Johnstone in the League Cup and also by Sunday’s defeat at Easter Road. Warburton has been enjoying the adoration and acclaim of the Rangers support but a recent dip in form coupled with the loss to Hibs means that it could be questioned whether or not Rangers are the best team in their division let alone remotely good enough for the top flight. Their early lead in the Championship table now looks a lot more precarious than it did even a couple of weeks ago.
The problems Rangers have are multiple. Their defence looks very shaky and the midfield stands off ball-watching all too frequently. Going forward Rangers always look dangerous but teams are learning how to combat the one-dimensional nature of Warburton’s tactics. There is an amateur naivety about Rangers’ play and the energy levels have dropped dramatically in recent times.Hibs were far more industrious and aggressive than Rangers on Sunday which is a worrying factor for the Ibrox club.
Of course, Rangers’ points haul still gives them a massive advantage in the Championship title race and Hibs are not noted for their consistency, although they have been on an impressive run themselves since August.
Rangers by necessity must start to build for next season but are vulnerable should an offer come in from an ambitious English side for Warburton. Few would be able to grudge him his chance of success that could even see him becoming an EPL team manager in time.
Rangers fans have also been guilty of thinking their team is better than it actually is and Sunday’s game has underlined this. Warburton has vastly improved things but the brutal truth is that Rangers is still very much a Championship side. This present team could not make a challenge of any kind for the Premiership.
It is wonderful to have former glories to remember. Supporters of both Rangers and Celtic have these in abundance. But they are no entitlement to success in the present climate both teams operate in.
The fact is, both Celtic and Rangers are shadows of what they once were. To claim otherwise is crass arrogance. To believe otherwise is sheer lunacy.