Make no mistake; for Celtic, this Sunday's Cup Final matters
With the timing and the lack of fans, it’s been easy to forget that Celtic have a Scottish Cup Final on Sunday.
Yes, it’ll be eerie, but the Quadruple Treble is still on the line. Similarly, Neil Lennon’s job is still under question, regardless of what the board say in public.
For many of Celtic’s misfiring players, this is the last real chance to put themselves in the shop window. If they’re pining for a move, this game counts.
There is so much at stake here, and yet there’s a strange silence. Is it fear of losing? Or is it more that league form has taken precedence?
Whatever the case may be, this Cup Final is hugely important to Celtic Football Club. Let’s discuss why.
Neil Lennon has to win it
Both parties insist that Celtic’s season will be turned around. They are convinced it’s only a matter of time until we’ve caught up with Rangers. Out loud, anyway.
In private, you have to imagine that Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond have been biting their nails. The fact that it’s their man who’s struggling, the one they hurriedly appointed after the last Scottish Cup Final, will be a source of huge stress.
This Cup Final gives them a legitimate chance to cut ties if it doesn’t go to plan.
On paper, there’s absolutely no excuse for Celtic losing. Hearts are in the league below Celtic after last year’s dismal efforts. As controversial and ugly as it ended up being (BBC), the fact is that they were the worst team in the league in the truncated 19-20 season.
If Celtic don’t win this, Lennon’s position becomes untenable. The Quadruple Treble has never been done and it’s beyond unlikely that anyone has the chance to do it again. To lose it against a team in a lower tier? Unacceptable.
Celtic’s underperforming players need something to celebrate
“Form is temporary, class is permanent” goes the old adage. Neil Lennon seems to think so, with the likelihood being that Scott Brown and Ryan Christie will return for the Final.
I’m not entirely on board with whatever flak Ryan Christie is getting. Scott Brown, on the other hand, has needed a good break for a long time. Without a normal pre-season, he’s struggled for fitness.
Even if it’s not moves they’re angling for, they should be right up for this. It’s a Cup Final. For those players specifically, it’s another chance to cement themselves in Celtic folklore, having been part of Celtic’s incredible Cup success.
If Scott Brown does play, he needs to be the Broony of old. He has to terrorise the Hearts midfield until they’re completely bereft of ideas. He needs to be physical, but also move the ball with real intent. The player who’s been doing that instead is Ismaila Soro, and the idea of the Ivorian missing out feels very harsh.
The usual hype seems to be missing
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but we should be more excited about this. Whether it’s the fear of our recent form reemerging or concern about the strength our opponents, we need to rally.
Celtic supporters have been criticised so readily and so heavily from all corners in recent weeks. For the section of the Bhoys’ support, this is your chance to “back” Lenny and the team. Ok, we can’t physically be there, but make some more noise regardless.
It feels more like we’re winding down than gearing up. Yes, it’s been an exhausting, difficult year. Football aside, it’s been hard to get excited about much of anything. I get that.
But we stand on the precipice of doing something that no-one else has done.
This Cup Final is absolutely gigantic.
As fans, we need to ensure that nobody at the club is in any doubt of that.