People asked me last night, after I’d posted my final piece on the game, why I never commented on the stonewall penalty we should have had last in the match. My answer to them is the same as I’ll give right now; “What did it matter?” We might have scored it and gone through, but nobody who saw that yesterday could claim we deserved to.
Brendan Rodgers second spell at Celtic will not, ultimately, be defined by his performance or that of his team in the 2023-24 League Cup; trebles are exceptionally hard to win and that’s why I have celebrated every one of the five we’ve gotten in the last seven years and why I reject utterly the media narrative that surrounded those and which will surround Rodgers first failure in domestic terms as the Celtic boss.
But because this game represents a watershed moment, I would rather that it ended in defeat and reflected the reality and significance of this moment than we’d gotten a late penalty, scored it, turned the tie and papered over the cracks. Sometimes a defeat can be far more galvanising than any victory, and I hope to God this is one such example.
The decision is a disgrace for all that, not just that the ref didn’t give it but that nobody in the VAR room thought we had a case. What do you expect? It’s been obvious since VAR was introduced that the Scottish Version was going to be used against us in a way that truly mattered and this was it, just as many people feared that it might be.
It’s not even a surprise far less a shock. That it’s a disgusting call does not mean it came out a clear sky. The moment you saw the names of the “permanent” VAR team you knew how this would go, even if you couldn’t predict the game.
Whereas in England these guys would be made to explain that call and even face sanctions for getting it so badly, badly wrong in Scotland they are more likely to get a pat on the back, the Freedom of Larkhall and the hotseat for the game at Ibrox.
Our club brings this stuff upon itself to a certain extent. Without wanting it to seem as if I’m blaming all the ills of the world on our board today, we all know they tolerate this stuff going on. When you show that kind of weakness you invite this stuff.
Ange Postecoglou was not the sort of manager to complain about it.
Brendan Rodgers, who has seen it all before, had more important things on his mind yesterday. Later on in the week, as we face the league game against St Johnstone, he must address it.
This is what we warned about when we pointed out that McInnes was making noise about refs for a very specific reason. Nobody amongst our support saw anything but what we expected to.
If this club won’t heed the warning, we’ll continue to pay the price and that was a Hell of a price we paid yesterday, although the refereeing was the least important problem.