Pundits are going to praise Celtic without an agenda; naysayers need to get used to it
In one of the more surreal Scottish football stories from last night, Livingston player and assistant Marvin Bartley had to deny he was “angling” for a job at Celtic after giving his opinion on Ange’s team on Radio Clyde.
In a tweet last night, Bartley responded to such a claim, saying [Twitter]: Why can’t somebody give credit to a team/manager/player and it just be that?
“Whenever I work as a pundit there is no angle just the way I see it (more than happy to have a discussion as to why you think I wrong) and that will continue my friend!”
It’s not just him, either. Pundits like Michael Stewart have been accused of having an agenda. Neutral, or at least supposedly neutral analysts and writers about the game are lobbed with bias claims all the time. It’s nothing new. Particularly this season though, the partisanship amongst the commentariat has been more pronounced.
The fact is, though, there’s no agenda at work with guys like Marvin Bartley or Michael Stewart. It just so happens that Celtic are playing extremely good football this season. There are plenty of goals, the defence has been resolute. Considering where we were last season, the improvement has been undeniable.
Pundits from all over the place are going to say that. Whether it’s in Australia, Scotland or anywhere else. When Celtic are up with the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid statistically, pundits without a stake in the Celtic/Rangers rivalry are quite entitled to say “look, this lot are good”.
Folk of a non-Celtic persuasion are just going to have to get used to it. As partisan and tribal as the Celtic and Rangers rivalry is, pundits are rightly pointing to Celtic’s positives this season and it doesn’t mean they’re putting a flag in the ground.
Pundits with no stake in Celtic are going to praise the team; get used to it
Are there pundits with biases? Of course! Plenty of them.
For Celtic, there’s John Hartson, Chris Sutton, Mark Wilson, Alan Stubbs, Pat Bonner and plenty of others. Rangers have Barry Ferguson, Brian Laudrup, Alex Rae, Kris Boyd and plenty of their own, too. The fact is, media is a very tempting route for former players from either Celtic or Rangers to go down.
They’ve played for the clubs with the most attention on them. Their quality of insight differs wildly, but they’re a draw for media companies. The opinions of ex-players is big business. Perhaps, there’s too many Celtic or Rangers-themed pundits working in mainstream Scottish football media, and that’s muddied the waters.
So, you can understand to a degree why fans of either club might feel someone without a connection to either Celtic or Rangers doing punditry might be skewed a certain way. It’s because we’re so used to – rightly or wrongly – hearing former players of either club on TV, on the radio or in the papers.
But to assume a bias where there isn’t one shows the tunnel-vision at play here. When Celtic aren’t playing well, neutral pundits will have a dig at the Bhoys’ most recent performance. The same way there’ll be credit when it’s due.
The credit has come because Celtic really do look like doing something special this season, after rebuilding from the rubble of last campaign.
Sorry if you’re not Celtic-minded, but that’s the way it is. It’s objectively true that Celtic are doing well just now.
And the way things look right now, it’s going to be something that naysayers will have to get used to.