The game yesterday was a feisty affair, as you would expect from a friendly match between a team from Scotland and one from England. The word “friendly” is used as a loose sort of term in a game like that; there is always going to be something at stake.
Nevertheless, I found the number of fouls against us to be indicative of a side that went over the top somewhat. One tackle in particular – the one on Matt O’Riley, which he was still angry about when he spoke to the media – was a genuine shocker.
In a competitive match, and especially one with VAR, that tackle would almost certainly have been looked at as an instance of serious violent conduct and the red card shown.
He got lucky that players tend not to get sent off in friendly games.
But Matt O’Riley got luckier, of course, because that sort of tackle can put a player out for months. It is the sort that managers dread and which club sides are fearful of.
Even in a game where there is a little extra incentive that tackle was utterly needless though, and Celtic will almost certainly have raised the issue with Everton’s coaching team behind the scenes.
Nobody wants to make a big deal out of this stuff, but that tackle could have been disastrous for us and we can’t just ignore it. O’Riley was certainly in no mood to do so.
I sometimes think that because friendly matches don’t usually see the cards fly that a lot of players take advantage of the referee’s tendency towards leniency to do things they’d never do in competitive games.
I’m not saying that’s what happened yesterday, only that a potentially dangerous challenge like that might easily have had consequences for their player as well as ours.
Both are lucky that it didn’t. It was a shocker. I hope the least he did was apologise to Matt.