We Go Again

Today Celtic’s treble dream for 2014/15 ended with defeat at the hands of Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.  Inverness are no strangers to ending Celtic’s quest for honours having done so several times in the recent past, most memorably in 2000 when their thumping of a less than mediocre Celtic, also in the Scottish Cup, lead to the inspired ‘Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious’ headline.  Unlike that night, when Inverness needed no help to dispose of Celtic, this afternoon’s defeat will be a just a little harder to take thanks to the largely inept performance of today’s match officials.

The sway of the game, and ultimately Celtic’s treble bid, was altered by a truly horrendous call by Steven McLean and his fellow match officials.  The turning point, I’m sure I need not remind you, coming when McLean and his assistant referee failed to spot a clear and obvious hand ball by Josh Meekings on the Inverness goal line, thus denying Leigh Griffiths a certain goal.  Red card and penalty seemed the only option available to the officials, however, inexplicably they allowed the game to play on.  Celtic were denied the chance of doubling their advantage and playing over half the game against ten-men, surely an advantage that they would not have thrown away.  However, we will never know.

Rubbing salt into the wound, Inverness’ equaliser came from a penalty conceded by Craig Gordon who was summarily dismissed for his foul.  Worse still, this meant that Lukasz Zaluska would play in goals for the rest of game; a worse punishment than having to play with ten men.

As everyone knows, once the referee has made his mind up, he is not likely to change it.  Once his decision is made, it is made and the play goes on.  Celtic still had a full 45 minutes to win the game and could not do so.  The call to send off Gordon was probably correct, and from that point on, it is probably fair to say that Inverness were the better side and deserved the win.  However, it must not be forgotten that they should have been the ones playing with ten men, not against men.  Had that been the case, and McLean done his job properly, then the treble bid would, in all probability still be on.  As one tweeter, @timomouse, put it “Ten Men won the league.  One man cost the treble. And he was holding the whistle.”

While McLean was at fault for not awarding the penalty, it should also not be forgotten that Meekins was guilty of blatant cheating and his actions should be retrospectively punished.  His hand ball changed the natural course of the game helping his side to progress in the competition at Celtic’s expense.  Both Meekings and McLean should face punishment from the SFA during the week, but, in reality, any punishment will be too little too late.  It will be interesting however to see what action the SFA takes against McLean for not giving the clearest cut penalty you are likely to see this weekend; after all, even Stewart Regan has admitted his officials called it wrong.  If we were in England, McLean would be removed from officiating big matches in the near future, I wonder if the SFA will take the same approach.

Once more, it seems like an ‘honest mistake’ has cost Celtic a shot at glory.  But next season We Go Again in search of another treble.  For now, we focus on wrapping up another league title.

Comments welcome.


7 thoughts on “We Go Again

  1. Disgraceful Decision but not just the ref but also by his 2 assistants

  2. for one official to make a bad decision may be described as “inexplicable ” but for a referee, linesman and whatever you call the clown behind the goal to miss such a clear handball in my opinion can only be described as corrupt.

    This is something we have seen time and time again and if Ronny plans on a long Celtic career it’s something he will come up against time and time again.

    What we’ve got to do is learn from this. We’ve got to be ruthless on the park. We’ve got to punish teams, go for the kill when we’re on top. Stop playing games in cruise control. Nothing less than 100% should be acceptable.
    We’ve got to be ruthless defensively. Make teams work hard to score against us.
    Ronny will also have to be ruthless off the park. In addition to taking on the football establishment and opposing teams he’ll have to take on the board. When players leave for big fee’s then adequate replacements must be brought in.

    Desperately looking for a silver lining for this cloud but maybe a side which is so obviously still a work in progress winning the treble would have allowed the board to paper over the cracks.
    Hopefully this will give the manager and players an indication of what’s needed to be successful at Celtic and the anger we’re all feeling tonight will live with them and drive them to trebles in the future

    1. I’ll try and get through this point by point.

      1- Agreed, it wasn’t just the ref who missed it / saw it but chose not to call it, it was the entire team of match officials. Not sure I’d say they were corrupt, but having watched the incident numerous times since, there is no way they could not have seen it. Corrupt? Maybe. Anti-Celtic agenda? Possibly. Inept, useless, not fit to do the job? Absolutely.

      2- Yes, seen it happen so many times, see above video of ‘honest mistakes’. What was it Stein used to say about having to beat the opposition and the referee? Call it paranoia, but there’s a definite trend of big decisions going against Celtic. Having said that, this team should have the ability to shrug that off and win the game regardless.

      3- Spot on, we are not ruthless enough. I like our style of play but to often we fail to bury teams and make the most of our domination in matches. Defensively we are weak in my opinion, therefore we can’t rely on the defence to bail us out. We need to be more clinical in front of goal.

      4- There’s no chance that Deila will get big bucks to spend in the summer. Our transfer policy is buy cheap, sell big; I don’t see that changing. But it would be nice if we did break with that and sign a couple of proven players, starting with a centre half.

  3. Hi Kevin
    Firstly congratulations to Inverness on reaching the cup final a great achievement albeit under such terrible decisions by the officials.
    My concerns are that the choice of substitutions by Ronnie, to me it shows him to be lacking in what it takes to be a true Celtic manager.
    It was Inverness we were playing not some top team from Europe.
    He sacrificed far too early the pace of James Forrest to give away for the sake of a sending off of our goalie.
    To me it was an easy call Matthews off and Bitton back to a 3 man defence with 4 in the middle.
    Zaluska, Bitton Virgil and Denayer, With Izzy as a wing back and Forrest on the right side
    Brown as the holding player Johansson on the left and griffiths on the right with commons on a free run through the middle. We could have seen how it was going and then used fresher legs later in the match.
    I’m sorry but even with 10 we should be able to take on Inverness.
    Also tonev and scepovic being named in the squad was a joke.
    What’s your thoughts on Ronnies team selection and subs.
    Hail Hail

    1. Hi Jimmy,
      Begrudgingly I will congratulate Inverness on making the final, but will be cheering on Falkirk. I don’t mind losing to a better and more deserving team but, after that decision, I don’t think ICT fall into that category.

      On the whole I like Ronny and what he’s doing; the 4-2-3-1 system, pressing, and pace are all positive features that he’s brought in. However, I share your concerns at times. There seems to be no Plan B if things aren’t going right.

      Generally, I think any ‘poor’ subs can be attributed to a lack of depth in quality and options available in the squad rather than poor decisions by Deila. My memory’s not great but I can’t think of too many subs he’s made this season where I’d say he got in badly wrong.

      In hindsight, your choice of sub would probably have worked better and I’m in agreement with it. When down to ten it’s important to keep pace in the team for the all important counter attacks and break away’s; we removed our paciest player and therefore a potential threat to ICT. He made a similar sub in Milan when he took GMS off after Virgil’s sending off, however I think that was more understandable. It also brings me to your next point, and again I will agree with you that we should be beating ICT, even with ten men, and that we gave them (or the tie) the same respect that we give European opposition. In my opinion we shouldn’t be doing that. We must respect our opposition, but we must also know that we are better and be confident of winning regardless of how the game pans out.

      As for Tonev and Scepovic, I’d be happy if Tonev was sent back to Villa tonight and never darkened our door again. Scepovic on the other hand I think has shown glimpses of being a decent striker. Goals to minutes he’s impressive (check out Seth Dobson @226blog for some stats) given his rare appearances, and with Guidetti looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll be here next season, I’d give him a few games to see what he can do.

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