Poolside pints will feel a long way away if Neil Lennon's Celtic side do not get maximum points against out-of-form Hibs on Monday
But what about this Monday evening, when his sun-worshipping squad deign to return to league action against a Hibernian side in a run of poor form. Celtic, by contrast, have been doing a lot better and even the defeat against Rangers, having taken the game to the league leaders until Nir Bitton’s red card, saw them emerge with some credit.
Nevertheless, the hoo-hah about the club’s winter break in Dubai – in a season when there isn’t even a winter break scheduled – is refusing to die down. The sight of a sun-kissed Celtic team emerging from the tunnel will be an instant trigger for barbed comments.
Even the mere re-scheduling of the game has proved controversial. Celtic asked for the fixture to be moved to accommodate their travel plans, a request granted by the SPFL despite Hibs’ objections. It makes failure to gain three points even less tolerable.
And then there’s the desire of Hibs to put one over their hosts. “You’re no’ on your sun lounger now, Broonie!” is something the skipper may hear – if selected – when dumped to the turf by Ryan Porteous.
It’s obvious the powers-that-be at Celtic are now aware of the colossal misstep they made when persisting with the trip despite the drastic Covid-19 situation at home combined with the already simmering tension between the fans and the club.
The Celtic website has been determined to present the trip as essential all week: “We’ll reap the benefits of training camp,” says manager. “We’re working tirelessly ahead of second half of season,” says star midfielder.
They are all now back in chilly Scotland. Was a mere four days of training in hot weather worth all the opprobrium? Will it really make a significant difference?
We will soon see. Because if Celtic do slip up against Jack Ross’s currently faltering side, they will be back to square one. Lennon’s future will be the subject of fierce debate again. And poolside pints will feel a long way away.
A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription - https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.