What won’t help the Glasgow giants’ cause is the sort of carry-on witnessed at Celtic Park last Wednesday, summed up by the sight of Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist going head-to-head on the touchline (enough to make Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley blush) and the routine several-hundred ancillary arrests. There’s never been a shortage of soft-headed hardmen just looking for an excuse to kick off. Not for the first time Lennon is under police protection after receiving loyalist death threats, which might explain his highly-strung demeanour. As the Daily Mail’s Des Kelly described it: “…a poisonous midweek contest so overwrought it could not have been more demented had Colonel Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen been in charge.”
For all the mutual fear and loathing, the latest ugly Old Firm face-off bears all the hallmarks of two clubs taking their shared frustrations out on each other.
Celtic and Rangers are like mice on a tribal treadmill, meeting so often — seven times by the end of this season — that it’s become a suffocating, self-defeating existence.
The sectarian stuff is still there beneath the surface but you sense it’s no longer the root cause of their antipathy, borne of a common superiority complex.