When I was sent a link to Shane Duffy’s post match interview after the Kilmarnock game at the weekend I was genuinely moved, and could see a player that had been through the midst of a storm mentally. His words were very honest, not holding back on his own form, but also of his troubles since joining.
He had not long lost his father before joining Celtic, who was a big Celtic fan, like Shane. Joining Celtic would have been such a proud moment for him but tinged with the sadness his father wouldn’t have been there to see him play for the Bhoys at paradise. But then compound that with him being separated from family at a time when he is trying to settle into a new club, in a country he has never played in during what is one of the most difficult year for many during the pandemic. Now I am not claiming these issues will only affect Shane, many other players will have similar issues I’m sure, but I want to look at Shane, other players and issues and the most vital job of the fans during these times.
Now with all we know about Shane currently, we should also be aware of the news that came out about Elhamed. Feeling very home sick, missing his family who are in Israel who he cannot see due to the pandemic, and with very little contact due to restrictions it can become a very small and lonely place when you may be on your own for long spells with no friends or family. Now this is just two players we have seen in the news discuss these issues openly, and I fully appreciate its their job and they get paid a lot. But no matter what you pay a person for work, that money cannot help missing your family during a pandemic or having bouts of homesickness. Many seem to believe that the more you are paid the less human you must be as it seems the rich cannot be prone to emotions or feelings.
Now when you compound the situation with Shane and Elhamed, And then add on the issues with Griffiths at the start of the season plus the coronavirus issues around Bolingoli, game postponements and players not being available due to quarantine and positive test results this will have led to a very a very unstable working environment with low morale. But I know better than to expect Celtic fans to take these what could be deemed as excuses for perform and results, but I genuinely believe these situations have resulted in Celtic struggling to push past the dip in form.
At this point I feel it is pertinent to note that I fully appreciate the supporters disappointment at the run of form and how this can impact the morale of the fans, but for me I feel this is a time to rally round even more and try to push players on. I know that is a hard ask when morale is low but I am asking that fans have compassion and empathy during what will be a difficult time for the players and if all want a successful season we need to get all behind the players and the club.
The last thought I can leave here in regards to this season or even this year is that we have all had a tough year outside of football. People losing their loved ones, losing their jobs, being separated from close family and friends, and to me football feels like a bonus as something to distract away from the the scary side of this year. I appreciate how lucky I am to still have football to watch right now. I know this may seem a bit flippant or non important, but I am taking any positives for this year.
But in saying that, I want to remind myself of the difficulties of others, it may not be their job on the line, or lack of money, but I am very fortunate that I live with my partner and her daughter, I also live close to my parents and her parents and things like that shouldn’t be taken for granted, and with some of our players, that’s not a luxury they have, no matter how much they get paid.
This article was written by Ross McAtansey and permission was given for it to be published on Vital Celtic