Dear Neil,

We usually do your report card at the end of the season, but after last Sunday’s game, well, that’s our season over, isn’t it? So let’s do this now. Usual format: I’ll tell you three things I think you’re doing well, and three you need to improve on.

First off, I have to give you credit, again, for your passion – it is why we hired you in the first place, after all. You’re a Celtic man, and given that most of our players don’t know what that means, they need someone to show them. You do that in spades. I don’t know what you said to them at half-time in that Kilmarnock match – no, not the cup final, the one when we were 3-0 down at Rugby Park and we came back to draw – but it worked, and the run of wins after that was what got us the league. Saved your job, as well (joke!).

Second, and this is something we spoke about at the end of last season, I can see you’ve definitely worked on your self-control. No more confronting goldencheeks during Old Firm games, or mouthing off at opposition players, and not too much at referees, either. (I told you it’s easier to ignore them when you’re winning, glad you’ve got the message.)

And third, you’re being a lot smarter, most of the time, about getting sympathy for yourself. Telling the press you were advised for your safety not to enter the Director’s Box for the second half at Ibrox – but not telling them it was your own security people that said it – that was brilliant. Made them from the south side look like the animals they are, at least to anyone who didn’t find out the full story.

Now, turning to the stuff you need to work on.

First, your record in big games isn’t good enough. OK, you won the league by a country mile this season but if you add back Rangers ten-point deduction, and then think what would have happened if the ref had actually spotted Lee Wallace’s goal crossing the line at Parkhead in December, well, the title race would still be tighter than Chick Young’s wallet latch. In Europe, we got pumped by Sion, didn’t we? It was lucky we got into the Europa League when they were booted out, though we didn’t exactly emulate the Lisbon Lions when we got there. And I don’t need to mention losing to diddy teams in the League Cup final or the Scottish Cup semi, do I?

Second, the twitter. I don’t really know what a twitter is, but you have to lay off it, especially when you’ve had a bevvy or two. I don’t know why you feel you need it, anyway. If you really want to insult folk who disagree with you, create an account in Artur Boruc’s name. Keeps your nose clean and it would wind up the ‘currant buns’ no end.

Finally, and this is the most important one: stop blaming the refs every time we lose. We did well last season, banging on about them all the time, getting that **** Hugh Dallas fired, getting the SFA to change their stupid rules. With all the other stuff going on around you last year, you were the victim. Now, you’re the league champion and it just looks like sour grapes when you harp on about soft penalties in semi-finals. (Tell your team not to play like the Harlem Globetrotters inside the box if they don’t want to give away penalties.)

We agreed the plan when you took the job. We need to scream loud and clear every time anything even slightly goes against us, especially after big games. And we need to remind everyone before every big game of all the offences against us. That’s the Fergie tactic that we want to copy, sure, circle the wagons and create a paranoia complex. But we have to be smart, and when we get beat, let’s not automatically blame the ref.

Look at goldencheeks over there at the tax-dodger arena – always pretending to be above it all, just like his do-no-wrong predecessor Smith. Once in a while we should do what they do. Don’t chase the ref on the park after the game; wait until Monday morning and say something bitter in the cold light of day. Then people will think you’ve taken time to review the evidence and look at it from all angles, and they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. That’s what we need to do to keep the pressure up, without people realising what we’re doing.

Have a think over what I’ve said, and let’s sit down on Monday morning to review it. Once we agree I’m right, we can plan that pre-season tour of Australia you don’t want to do.


Pete L.