Neil Lennon was furious in the aftermath of the game today, and he was entirely correct to be.
Indeed, he echoed the point I pointed out in the piece I posted that Bitton’s red card was not even the half of it. He said he was unhappy with the whistler all day … which is bang on the button because I thought Madden’s overall performance was shocking.
“I thought we were outstanding before the red card that changed the course of a game we controlled, dominating the play,” he said. “We’ve been done by a pretty poor refereeing decision, I don’t think he was great all day. He’s made the decision straight away, Nir’s not done great, he’s got himself in the wrong body position but he’s not clean through. Ajer was on the cover so we had to jig things up and we were really unfortunate with the goal.”
The manager has identified that red card as the turning point.
He is correct. I think he could have done far better with the substitutions – and he’s not getting away with those, I’ll cover them later in a larger article – but he got his team selection right and he has his analysis of what happened in the game absolutely bang on.
A dreadful refereeing decision changed the game from being one we were good to win to one we’ve lost.
The Ibrox club did not register a solitary shot on target today.
Bobby Madden’s decision handed them the game.
Lennon said it, and Lennon is correct.
Tomorrow I will damn Lennon explicitly because he is correct.
Nobody I know had the slightest bit of confidence that he would know how to respond in a fashion that brought us a victory from that moment on. That’s the hard truth of it, it was the moment most of us realised the game would not be won by Celtic.
He deserves all the criticism coming his way.
But tonight for a different reason I am frustrated because he’s locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, as is so typical with our club.
There have been numerous times this season when Lennon himself could have called out bad officiating like everyone else at our club and he has failed to do it, and when you do that you are giving our enemies a free shot at you.
Refs don’t feel under scrutiny, so they do not feel under pressure.
We’ve blown this because we are weak as a club, and moaning about it after the fact although welcome and necessary is too little too late.
I don’t directly blame Lennon for the overall here; this was the responsibility of those above him at Celtic Park.
They are the ones who’ve lamentably failed at reforming the SFA.
But I do blame Lennon for not standing up for his players better before now … this is just so like Celtic, so like our club to now go on the offensive after the fact, when they need for it was obvious before but we waited, as usual, until the damage was already done.