For 70 minutes today at Ibrox the home side toiled against a Dundee Utd team missing at least a half dozen of its players. The away side started the game with five academy players in their starting line-up and another five on the bench.
In spite of that, the home side just could not make the breakthrough.
Then Alan Muir spotted a handball. Amazing, as we weren’t sure that he knew what that was. He awarded the spot-kick to the home team. And so another three points were secured.
The media enjoys painting this Ibrox side as something special, something totally transformed. But twice already since their new management team took over they’ve relied on late penalty kicks to break down teams. The hype that surrounds them is amazing, but there’s really not much doubt that their MVP’s are still their friends from the SFA.
That and rival defenders who can’t seem to stop giving them opportunities.
It’s got to the point where this is no longer a surprise.
It’s got to the point where you sit and wait for it when they are struggling.
Their ability to rely on it remains the biggest threat to Celtic at home in January. As long as we haven’t put the game beyond them we’re giving the officials a chance to influence events and if they have the opportunity they will.
There’s no surprise about this; we know what we’re up against here.
Refs can influence games in any number of ways, many of them small. But the big decisions … well, they fall Ibrox’s way with an amazing regularity, especially when the need is greatest.
I don’t know whether it’s a penalty or not today, as I’ve not seen it. Some of the hacks who have said it’s stonewall but then I expect that from the hacks.
Was it more stonewall than the one we didn’t get for the same thing in midweek? I know nobody wants to discuss that in any detail.
But I’ll tell you this; they wouldn’t have won that game today without it.