Irrelevance of Pre-Season

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So another pre-season has come and gone. The Cliftonville game marked the start of a new campaign and while it’s come sooner than usual, the typical mutterings and “the sky is falling” mentality had already affected some elements of our support. The results have been abysmal. The football on display has been dreich. So far the transfer window has been eventful and potentially disastrous, but I’ll leave that for another article.

Why do people get so wound up about pre-season? The results don’t matter and to a point, the football isn’t all that important. Pre-season gives the gaffer an opportunity to experiment with things that he’ll never have the luxury to try again until the league’s wrapped up. He can also try people in alternate positions to see where he can move people around.

“It’s all about fitness.” It’s an age old adage and one that Celtic supporters get sick of hearing when having to witness what we’ve seen the last couple of weeks, but it’s true. The players are being put through the paces two to three times a day and then playing games. The results were embarrassing but no one remembers or cares how the pre-season results went once we hit the ground running. Here’s a rundown of the last few years:

On our tour last year we won one, lost twice and tied once. We scored two goals and conceded six. We then lost to Norwich and tied Inter at Celtic Park before losing to Real Madrid in the USA.

For the season of 2011/2012 we won two and lost one in Australia. We then beat Cardiff and a League of Ireland XI and lost to Swansea, Wolves and Inter—all in no particular order.

The 2010 season began with another inauspicious start to the campaign and in my limited research the best pre-season we’ve had results wise came during the Mowbray disaster.

My disdain for pre season results comes from many years of watching NFL football and I use that as my reference. Once the fitba’s finished on TV in Ontario at 1:00pm on Sunday the channel gets switched to the other football—or handegg as it should be called.  Teams that do well in the pre season don’t necessarily have a good regular seasons and vice versa. The Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the pre season and became the only team ever to go winless in the regular season a few years ago.

Every team approaches pre season differently. Whether it’s heavily fitness based, tactically based or whatever, nothing matters until the first kick of the ball in a meaningful game. We still have six weeks of the transfer window to go and potentially more ups and downs until we actually get our season going. If your nerves are becoming shot and Celtic’s pre season ineptitude has got you down, just open “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and remember: Don’t Panic.

Scott Devlin


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