Date: 5th December 2017 at 2:59pm
Written by:

I know the press is struggling, and especially those publications who never had many readers in the first place, but The Scotsman is taking trolling up a notch today in managing to squeeze a negative story out of Thomas Buffel’s comments about what Anderlecht can expect tonight at Parkhead.

I read the article; I had to because that headline is such a screaming appeal for attention;

“Ex-Rangers ace warns Anderlecht to ‘expect abuse’ at Celtic Park”.

I was expecting some eejit like Novo to be talking garbage; in fact the article itself is very measured, even praiseworthy. Buffel has nice things to say about the fans and the atmosphere. He was not an “uber”, not one of those badge kissing clowns who can’t wait to pop up in the press every chance they get talking about how great it was to play at Ibrox. He is just a guy who played football there for a while, like dozens of others.

Speaking to the media over in Belgium he said, “The stadium is always packed; 60,000 Scots who sing loudly – that makes an impression. The fans are atmosphere makers. The stands are also designed so that you have 360 degree ambiance and passion. So it seems like you don’t have to take on twelve, but are against fourteen men.”

Like many others he was hugely impressed by our supporters when he played in front of them, and he’s basically telling Anderlecht players they won’t know what hit them.

So where, might you wonder, is the line about abuse?

In fact, it’s a generic comment on the stuff that happens on every pitch – yes on the pitch – in Scotland.

“There’s a lot of abuse on the pitch by the players. I don’t think Anderlecht’s players will understand much of it.”

Buffel has played in three different countries; I am willing to bet he’s heard “abuse” on every football pitch he’s ever been on.

If it’s a little more colourful in Scotland I’m sure that comes as no surprise to a living soul.

But it’s not a negative reflection on Celtic or the game here as a whole; it’s a straightforward observation, made by a player with a lot of respect for Scottish football.

That The Scotsman managed to squeeze a hysterical headline out of it really is quite something.

And I know they did it for sheer clickbait; the headline was changed.

The original version of it read “‘Playing at Celtic Park like facing 14 men’ says ex-Rangers star.”

(Both are available on Newsnow; both lead to the same article.)

Someone decided that wasn’t grabbing enough, so slapped this new one on it.

It’s a lamentable piece of “journalism”.

It belongs in the bin.

And what do you know? Shortly after I published this they changed the headline AGAIN, to something close to the original.

What a joke. But look – all three headlines are visible on Newsnow.