Yesterday, from the moment James Forrest put the ball in the net, the 2017 League Cup Final was over. That was the game-changer. That was the split second when the plan, such as it was, from the Fir Park club, collapsed like a house of cards. From that moment they had one option, the very one their manager told the press would get them done.
They had to attack us.
They made a brief foray up the park and forced Gordon into a save, but the writing was already on the wall.
We were pulling them apart on the counter.
For the first time in the game we were in behind their defence and making them sweat.
It was a matter of time before we scored the crucial second goal.
They came to Hampden with no other strategy but to sit back and contain us and hope to score first. They knew, as we did, that the moment we took the lead the dynamic would change and the game would no longer be in their grasp.
There is not a single sentient being in Scotland who is not wholly aware of that. Their chance, such as it was, was to get the first goal and then defend it like their lives depended on it. When that was over, the game was too.
Since that game ended, all we’ve heard from the Fir Park end is mouth, although to be fair there was a good amount of it before the game too.
The word “cheats” is getting bandied about quite the thing.
Scott Sinclair is a diver, apparently, although there’s a clear foul on him as he bursts into the box, and if he doesn’t go down he’s odds on to score. Quite why he would have taken a dive with the goal – and the glory – gaping I do not know.
But what I do know is that we were already pulling them all over the place so anybody who claims that the decisions “changed the game” is a fool, kidding on only themselves. Now we have Keith Lasley’s wife shrieking on Twitter … quite why we should listen to an ex-player’s better half isn’t clear to me, but suddenly that’s news.
She seems to want an inquiry into Scottish refereeing.
Funny that, isn’t?
The number of people who, in the last week or so, have demanded inquiries. Shame there was such stony silence from these people and their clubs when Celtic very legitimately, and with the whole game in mind, asked for the same. I get sick and tired of this snivelling hypocrisy.
Are Scottish refs bad? God, yes. They are awful. I was screaming blue murder at the telly yesterday when Moussa Dembele was scythed down early without as much as a booking following. One Sevco fan site has accused the refs of “buying in” to Celtic’s comments before the game about following the rules. Hey, it wasn’t our club or our players or our manager who put that subject in the public domain; it was the avowed, public strategy of Motherwell FC, everyone from its manager to its captain to its young Scottish winger Chris Cadden. All made it clear they would try to push us around and harass us on or off the ball.
If they felt the spotlight was on them, that would be why.
And yet, in spite of it, Cedric Kipre was still allowed to make his unpardonable, vicious assault on our forward. It was, as a I said yesterday, God’s little joke than he ended up off for something so innocuous … innocuous but still a foul and still deserving of a red.
Lasley’s wife is understandably angry at seeing her husband’s team come so far only to lose. She mentions her kids though. She says that “you try to teach them to be honest in life and that there are consequences for their actions.” A sentiment with which we can all agree. “Then you take them to a game one Sunday … and they learn that cheating gets you a win and there’s absolutely no consequences for poor decisions.”
Dreadful thing for kids to have to learn, but this is Scottish football, as her club is perfectly content to leave it. Some of our own kids grew up being cheated and there were no consequences whatsoever for it.
Suck it up and take it, or do something about it. But if she wants reform and change then she’s screaming at the wrong people. Her husband’s own bosses would do for a start.
Either way, this gurning, this wailing, this moaning about an outcome that was perfectly just, that would have seen Celtic as cup winners either way, is pathetic.
“Cheaters are never winners,” she sobs at the end.
Sadly, our game has proved the opposite of this.
But one unchangeable law of life is this; whiners are perennial losers.
It embarrasses Motherwell as a club that so many are taking this setback with such an appalling lack of dignity and class, especially when Celtic had already taken the lead and were clearly in the driving seat. They game might not have been “over” but it was done just the same.