In the aftermath of Sunday’s result at Ibrox, neither Michael Beale nor his players would have been left in any doubt about just how thin the patience of the club support is wearing.
There was a toxic element to Ibrox as Beale and his players were faced with a barrage of furious boos and abuse as they trooped around the pitch at full-time on the back of a game where the optimism at the start was in sharp contrast to the anger at the end.
Indeed, the mood of both sets of supporters in the build-up to this game could not have more different; Rangers confident and assured about inflicting damage and Celtic anxious about a starting back four that seemed to serve only as cannon-fodder. By full-time that sentiment rang more than just a little hollow with Liam Scales walking out of Ibrox a little taller than the player who walked in.
Defeat in this game was always going to invite pressure on the manager who walked out on the losing side. The problem, however, for Beale is that he is rapidly using any credit that he had banked. A Champions League play-off exit to PSV Eindhoven can be forgiven – the manner of the exit is another question – but his failure to emerge on top from significant meetings against Celtic will feel like a stain on his name.
There was the win over Ange Postecoglou’s side last season but it came after the title had long since disappeared with the then Celtic manager fielding an experiemental side.
Failure to do it when it matters has already become a stick to beat him with.
It was difficult not to escape the theory on Sunday afternoon that it is not always boardrooms who sack managers but rather supporters and the sway they hold. When the tide turns one way it can be akin to squeezing the morning’s toothpaste back in the tube when it comes to reversing the feeling.
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