Celtic Diary Monday February 19: Halo Slips ?
You’ll have noticed todays offering is a wee bit later than usual.
Thats because i wanted to take a bit of time and have a think about what I was going to say after Celtic stormed to a 0-0 draw with St Johnstone -the second consecutive home game without a goal scored.
Something that hasn’t happened for a while.
Sure, the Perth side clawed, and kicked, tugged and generally ignored the rules, to that result.
But was it actually good management by Tommy Wright ?
Earlier this season “rangers ” complained that referee John Beaton had allowed an overly physical approach to their multi million pound players , which kind of counters any anti Celtic bias, and could it be possible that Wright had spotted this ?
The statistics will show he booked a few Saints players, but he only did this late on, which meant they would not have really cared. In the post match report, the bookings will be noted. What won’t be noted is that it took an astonishing nineteen fouls for the first Saint to be booked.
Bias or just piss poor refereeing ?
Probably the latter, remember he did the same against the “rangers “.
However, the players must take responsibility for not giving it back. Whilst we could argue that Beaton would have booked ours with a lot more enthusiasm, there’s actually nothing to suggest he would.
We’ve never tried it.
Opposition players have had an open day on our players all season, and the injury list is a testament to that.
It is now essential our players hit back. Not only by dishing out the rough stuff, but by getting in the referees face when it happens.
Let them know we aren’t going to take it anymore. It’s actually that simple.
As for criticism that Rodgers made too many changes, thats a difficult one to call.
My initial reaction was that there were too many changes, and the players called in would have no incentive to do well. they knew no matter what they did, they would not feature over in St Petersburg, and as a result , they just wanted to get the game over with and remain injury free.
If Rodgers had decided to protect his stars, then they would not have been on the bench, let alone to feature in the latter stages of a game where the opposition had been allowed a free hand to foul our players.
I cannot believe he’d have been that naive.
The upshot is that he now knows with the season approaching the business end, that he cannot rely on one or two who may have seen their status grow in the eyes of the support.
And with a few difficult games ahead, then its better to know that now than then.
It may be that Aberdeens defeat on Saturday allowed him the leeway to do that, and as it turned out, Celtic did move one point further ahead.
Nine points clear, and eleven games to go.
I’ll take that.
Especially as the quadruple, and not the treble seems to be a bit more than a dream in the managers eyes, and whilst the Diary cannot claim to be the managers biggest fan, it has always claimed to be fair, and the result in the first Zenit game, and the way the manager got that means to me that he deserves a bit of leeway as we approach a difficult game in a difficult place.
He might not be the Messiah, but he deserves a chance to show he might be.
Sure we dropped a couple of points at the weekend, but I’ve a feeling we won’t remember that come May.
There’s a lot to do but take a deep breath, and think ..