THOSE Green Brigade ultra chappies have been on their very bestest behaviour since the Celtic hierarchy decided to lift the ban on them attending games and allow them back through the turnstiles last month.

Okay, so the air at Parkhead and other grounds around the country on match days might have been polluted with chants of “Up the ‘Ra” since the cinch Premiership fixture against Livingston shortly before Christmas.

But there have been no mass pyrotechnic displays, no violence and intimidation towards stewards, nobody has forced their way through turnstiles and nobody has attempted to force open fire exits. So that’s progress.

Their presence in the safe-standing section at Celtic Park and in the away ends of their rivals’ stadiums has probably, although the high heid yins may be loath to admit it given all of the grief the group has given them over the years, helped Brendan Rodgers’ team to perform.

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The atmosphere after their season tickets had been suspended indefinitely was, at times, flatter than the final hours of the January transfer window in Scotland on Thursday night.

Callum McGregor and his team mates have won all six of their league outings, including their second meeting of the season with Rangers, since they have been back in and they have conceded just one goal, the worldie that James Tavernier netted late on in the Old Firm derby.

Are The Green Brigade their 12th man? That would be stretching things somewhat. Still, there has certainly been, as the Paul McStay character in Only An Excuse was wont to say, a buzz about the place with them back in. It is, too, undeniable their form has improved.

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They will, along with all of their fellow Celtic fans, give their wholehearted backing to their heroes against Aberdeen at Pittodrie this afternoon, Hibernian at Easter Road on Wednesday evening and St Mirren at the SMISA Stadium a week tomorrow?

They will know that unfurling banners and hurling abuse at the visitors’ board would simply give their opponents’ followers reason to gloat and jeer and should be firmly focused on the football.

However, if their managerless hosts take the lead then their ire will be directed as much as the blazers in main stand as it will on the players and the pitch and the man in the dugout. If they draw or lose and drop precious points in the title race the backlash will be considerable. 

Celtic supporters are not shy about letting the custodians of their club know when they are not amused.

When then chief executive Peter Lawwell and his cohorts took their seat before the first leg of their Europa League play-off against AIK Stockholm back in the summer of 2019 they were greeted by a tifo in the North Curve which highlighted how unhappy their customers were with their stewardship. 

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It showed a giant green car with Lawwell, manager Neil Lennon and major shareholder Dermot Desmond sitting alongside each other in the front seat. Above the Hoopsmobile were the words: “Don’t Sleep At The Wheel”.

That came after a painful defeat to Cluj of Romania and a second successive failure to make it through to the lucrative Champions League group stages. It was, though, a little harsh. They had, after all, just splashed out £7m on Christopher Jullien.

The unhappiness which exists in the stands at Parkhead at this juncture has been exacerbated by the transfer business they have conducted in recent weeks. Stellar signings were excitedly anticipated when the winter break got underway. Only Nicolas Kuhn and Adam Idah have arrived. With David Turnbull departing, are they stronger or weaker? 

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Brassed-off Bhoys are demanding to know what the point of having tens of millions in the bank is when Rodgers only has one fit left back at his disposal? Their long-standing business model has served them well on and off the park. They have stockpiled silvereware and posted eight figure annual profits. But they have, rightly or wrongly, been accused with gambling on the title by refusing to loosen the purse strings.  

What about last summer? Rodgers was, despite the unhappiness in certain quarters, an inspired replacement for Ange Postecoglou. Over £18m was lavished on Odin Thiago Holm, Yang Hyun-jun, Tomoki Iwata, Gustaf Lagerbielke, Maik Nawrocki, Luis Palma and Marco Tilio and Paolo Bernardo was secured on loan. They still have, as their wins over their city rivals this term have highlighted, the strongest, most expensive and most talented squad in the country. But there can be no resting on laurels in the East End of Glasgow. 

The response to the Premiership defeat to Hearts at home in December was vicious. Stewards had to move in to protect directors as those around them vented their fury at what they were witnessing. There were chants of “Sack the Board” and “Lawwell, Lawwell Get to ****”.

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Celtic are just five points ahead of Rangers at the top of the table. Their nearest challengers have a game against Ross County in hand. If there are any slip-ups in the weeks ahead, and they have got a difficult run of three away games coming up which they will be doing very well to negotiate, then things could get very ugly indeed.

There were angry protests outside the front door of Parkhead after the League Cup loss to County back in 2020 when spectators were not allowed inside stadiums due to Covid. Goodness only knows what will happen if their defence of the Premiership unravels. There is no margin for error.