The Linfield Game Was Always Going To Be Trouble. Their Manager’s Attitude Guaranteed It.

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David Healy spoke today about events last night at Linfield and about events to come at Celtic Park. The guy who didn’t hear sectarian songs or see the throwing of objects by his club’s fans has predicted that he will need “a tin hat and an armoured suit.”

This insult to our fans is compounded by his shoddy defence of his own.

David Healy is a pure bigot and he always was.

He played here in Scotland, of course, and probably likes to think of it as a time when he did his part for the “cause” at Ibrox; actually he was another in a long line of people who queued up to suck the marrow off the bones at a time when the clock was ticking down.

He contributed not one thing of note in a blue shirt, except for the times when he played to the gallery of goons.

Last night he sat there at the press conference and compared the match to an Old Firm game.

What a clown.

The media has tried to compare games between Celtic and Sevco in the same way. In that, Healy might have had a point. If we’re using our matches with the Ibrox NewCo as a yardstick then the casual way we won last night does look familiar.

He also said the club has done “what it can” to weed out the bad elements in its support.

I have news for him. You don’t do that by pretending not to have seen or heard what they were getting up to. If he had balls at all he would have fronted up and offered condemnation; instead he shrugged and said “these things happen” in certain games.

What a cop out. What a gutless statement.

What an apologia for the disgraceful scenes and songs before, during and after the final whistle.

I expected this from someone like him.

But the club’s own conduct has been highly suspect since the draw was made. They did everything they could to simultaneously hype this match even as they tried to pretend their supporters would be happy to invite ours to share the occasion with the equivalent of toast and tea. What we got instead, predictably, was a barrage of abuse and a shower of missiles. It was scandalous but it was not something we didn’t see coming a mile away.

The club itself openly offered tickets to anyone who wanted them after saying that Celtic fans were welcome even after our club had declined to take an allocation. This was a naked attempt at stirring up trouble between Celtic and its supporters and for what appears, to me, to be based purely on financial motives. Even with a number of our fans buying tickets for the game there were parts of the ground that were still pretty empty.

But always I question clubs which claim to have “done all they can” to tackle bad behaviour in the stands even as they encourage it or make excuse for it.

I have praised Linfield for trying to “move on” past the sectarian element in the support but how can any club claim to be standing up against that when it hosts an annual Bigots Beano with their Ibrox brethren complete with flute bands?

I said in an earlier piece that a nasty element would attach itself to this game but I never imagined some of the worst nonsense would come from the guy in the dugout, and if he’s only paying lip service to the idea the club itself can’t be trusted.

His comments about the tin hat and the suit of armour are shocking. Celtic fans didn’t invade the pitch last night. That was his own fans. They didn’t throw things at opposition players. That was his team and, recently, the fans of the one he used to play for and its successor club.

In trying to slander and smear our fans he’s doing more than just making excuses for and trying to deflect from the behaviour of his own … he’s encouraging trouble where none is, even hoping for it. That is scandalous, on top of everything else.

UEFA will not be idle on this stuff. They will respond, and they should. Linfield talked a good game about being a progressive club but the facts of the case are undisputed. Their fans behaved disgracefully and their manager refused to condemn them.

The similarities with a certain Scottish club are too obvious to ignore.

Thank God the SFA isn’t responsible for policing this.

We know how that story ends.

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