It’s been a long time since the Ibrox club gave away a penalty in the league. So long that it’s become an embarrassment even for the officials responsible for it. It is being highlighted in the media too now, in certain places anyway, and risking becoming a real talking point.
But above and beyond the coverage is the fact of it, and the shocking nature of some of the decisions which have kept that run going. Goldson at the weekend was just the latest of them, a shocker of a decision which everyone who watches it knows was a spot kick whether they want to admit that fact or not.
The last time this fact was being highlighted so prominently in the mainstream press it was about their domestic record overall. That was remedied when they conceded a penalty against Partick Thistle, a game in which they were so expected to win that they even allowed the opposition to run up the park and score a goal.
Their season is over. Their manager has pressed the Destruct button on the team. The writing is on the wall for half of their squad, so there’s literally nothing to play for except a bit of pride and even they know that doesn’t get you anything real.
A lot of Celtic fans think this is why we’ll get a penalty this weekend.
Because now it no longer matters. Now it’s just a thruway decision which won’t have any impact on the season and how it comes to an end. In short, it would be a tactical decision. It would arm their club by enabling another full season with no penalties, a season which stands to be massive for their club and in which they will need every advantage.
I accept the logic of that. I also think that to say there’s nothing at stake at the weekend is dead wrong though. The Mooch certainly cannot afford to lose this game. His credibility is already under question and genuine doubts about him are rampant in a support who sees him as having failed when the chips are down.
Remember, they are the same fans who are convinced that our team is not that great, that the gap is not that large. If that’s true, some of them wonder, why can’t this guy get results against us? That bothers them. That concerns them, and it should.
So I don’t know that the game has nothing at stake for them. It certainly has plenty at stake for him, as he is already increasingly under the gun. I don’t know that it has nothing at stake for his team either, as they are all fighting for their places.
Finally, there’s plenty at stake for the club itself. They need a glimmer of hope for the next campaign, and being humiliated on their own turf by Celtic would certainly not send them into the summer full of joy and confidence.
All this is to say that I think we’ll probably miss out on the penalty, although I wouldn’t put anything past this lot. But I do think they will concede one before this campaign ends, for much the same reason. The stats are now too widely known. The decisions they are getting are just too obvious and bordering on the ridiculous … so something has to give.