The media will go out of its way not to pay too much attention to what Ange Postecoglou said tonight after the game, but that would be a mistake. Because it’s the most newsworthy moment of the day unless the Ibrox club sacks its manager this evening.
Speaking in the aftermath of our victory, which moves us nine clear at the top of the table, he was asked, as expected, about the abysmal penalty decision which went against us. His answer was as good as I’ve ever heard from a Celtic boss.
“Me talking about it in the last two weeks has done my football club no favours,” he said. And that’s an important enough point to consider, and I’ll return to it. “From my perspective, they were only ever going to score today by a penalty. That’s what they got. I’ll leave it to the powers that be. I’ve said my piece on it. I’m just focusing on a group of players who are doing this club proud.”
There is a lot to break down in that statement, but to me it’s spoken in plain English and means exactly what it says.
When he says it’s done the club no favours he’s saying that the decisions keep on happening anyway. When he says they were never going to score except by a penalty and that they got one, he’s not implying – he’s saying out right – that the referee gave Ross County a helping hand. But none of it is half as important as what he says next.
“I’ll leave it to the powers that be,” he said. And that’s the story of the evening. Who are the powers that be? Certainly not the SFA. He’s talking about our board.
There are two ways you can take that, and I know which one of them it is. You could, if you were being ungenerous, say that he’s trying to bounce the board into doing what his own words have been unable to do. But that’s not it at all.
Ange is leaving it in the hands of people who are already concerned about it, people who I have no doubt have told him that they are going to handle it from here on in. After the midweek fiasco they were already pretty pissed off. I can only imagine how those inside Parkhead feel tonight having witnessed that appalling display from the officials today.
I know there are a lot of people in our support who sneer at the suggestion that our club will do anything of note. They mistake willingness to act for a desire to grandstand to no effect. Do not kid yourself on this; there is a Champions League automatic qualification spot at stake here, worth tens of millions of pounds. Celtic will fight tooth and nail for that.
I don’t think our club has done nearly enough over the years when it comes to SFA reform. Nowhere near it. But we were one of the driving forces behind VAR for precisely the reasons this blog has outlined time and time again. Even if the decisions continue to go against us, those who make them are in the crosshairs now.
VAR strips away from the excuses that they have fielded against us time and time again; people make mistakes in the heat of the moment. Refs don’t always get a good view of incidents. Well they do now. They don’t need to make calls in an instant, and they can watch them from various angles until they have a clear picture.
When you watch the recent ones which have gone against us, those excuses no longer wash, and because the officials now have that extra time to decide, and multiple views of them, those decisions are untenable and the club now has grounds to go after those responsible. Ange clearly believes that those at the top of the house will do so.
He’s warning the officials and the SFA that this isn’t going to fly. I expect that our club will have rattled some cages on this before the World Cup break is over. I strongly suspect that although the bulk of our work will be done behind the scenes that there will be some form of comment, probably through a media briefing rather than a statement.
It will not be some public strop which has no teeth and which is subsequently ignored, and because we will do things in a professional manner there will be people who assume we’ve done nothing at all.
There is zero chance of that, folks.
Ange has made it clear; we will not tolerate things continuing in the manner we’ve seen in the last three weeks.