When the ball hit the back of the net and Kemar Roofe turned to celebrate, the pub I was in was uproarious in blaming our defender for giving it away. I was sitting in silence, waiting on the VAR check.
I knew watching the incident in real time that VAR had to overturn the goal, and so when the ref finally walked over to do the check it was only what I had expected to happen. How anyone can say they didn’t see a clear foul astonishes me.
Still, debate rages over this and the intervention of some former officials is only adding to the noise without getting us right down to the nitty-gritty of it. If a player is allowed to physically deck another in order to get the ball then this isn’t football, it’s some weird variant of it which is going to have these kinds of dodgy goals every single week.
Some of those shouting most loudly that the Ibrox club should have got it ought to wind their necks in because we know had someone scored like that against their team that they would have raised 99 kinds of Hell over it and they’d have watched it from 100 different angles.
What angles does it need? The push on a player who is shielding the ball is as obvious as it needs to be, and I cannot understand why people are talking about who’s feet were where because the decision clearly relates to the way Dessers bundles him over and all the rest is nonsense.
Even the much-heralded quotes from Dermott Gallagher, where he starts out talking about the feet ends with him actually saying “As I say, if you look at it again all I think is they think [Dessers] has pushed him, an upper-body push, but it’s certainly not a foul with his feet.”
But as far I know only the talking heads in the media have suggested it was, and that’s nothing but a smokescreen. I will be absolutely astonished if that shove isn’t what they tell the Ibrox club the free kick has been awarded for, and then certain people should be asked to defend their daft views.
Neil McCann’s rant on BBC Sportsound is incredible. He rails against the rules themselves after someone tries to explain them to him.
But it’s no less demented than some of what has come out of other people’s mouths and I wasn’t surprised that Andy Walker had one of his own incontinent greeting faced meltdowns over it on that social media channel where he hides and gets about 200 viewers at a time. Honestly, even reading the transcript of it you get the impression that he’s hysterical and needs to go and have a wee lie down for his own good. It’s absolutely barmy.
“You have to go back and see what VAR was introduced for,” he says, and then promptly makes it clear that he that he doesn’t know what it was introduced for. “I was at the presentation which I thought was really slick and professional. I distinctly remember asking the question ‘If I think it’s a foul and I am the referee, and you don’t think it’s a foul and you are VAR, oh, VAR won’t get involved.’ I didn’t think there was any need for VAR to get involved, I thought it was a coming together. There was a tangle of legs and I think you are just getting someone else’s opinion. I thought the referee was in a good position to see what took place and he didn’t give a foul.”
What part of it is this clown failing to understand? VAR has to get involved because it’s a situation where a goal has been scored, and that incident is what led directly to that happening. VAR does not get involved for general fouls, but only in those circumstances where there is either a goal or an incidence of serious foul play which might result in a red card.
Everyone was clear on this point at the start, so what the Hell is this eejit on about? He continues, and it gets more deranged from there.
“Had he given a foul, no problem, as you wouldn’t have had that forward play where (they) get a goal and the whole stadium erupted. But I thought it was a poor use of VAR as it is very subjective.”
And this is one of the nonsensical things being argued here, that it’s a decision which belongs in some grey area. But it’s either a foul or it isn’t, and there’s no grey area to be had here. This is an attempt to muddy the waters and pretend that there’s some complexity here when in fact this is as black and white, as binary, a choice as you’ll get.
“I don’t understand why VAR wanted to get involved,” he says, although that’s obvious to all but the stupidest person.” Because it’s not right and it’s not wrong, it’s just another opinion. You should always leave the big decisions to the referee on the field of play and I don’t think there was a clear and obvious error for VAR to get involved with and that is what we were sold.”
There was a clear and obvious foul in the run-up to the goal. The ref did not give that foul. So of course, VAR was right to get involved. If the ref has gotten a decision wrong and that decision leads to a goal that’s the nailed-on definition of exactly the sort of thing VAR was introduced for, and if he doesn’t know that he shouldn’t be opening his trap.
The Ibrox club is complaining on those same grounds, that it wasn’t a clear and obvious error, and the SFA must be awaiting their submission with a certain amount of sniggering because they, like Walker, are arguing against common sense and logic.
But common sense and logic always go out the window when Celtic get a decision or one goes against the Ibrox club. Every decision we’ve had in recent years has generated outpourings of lunacy. Every decision that goes against Ibrox results in complaints and demands for an explanation. You could have set your watch to this. It was inevitable.
Celtic fans should sit and watch all this wry amusement. Ibrox has been making a big thing out of supporting VAR and standing by decisions for an age now, and suddenly their forums are in melt-down, and all this does is focus their club on external enemies rather than on the problems they have inside their own walls … that works in our favour.
Our own club has complained about decisions several times, and we’re always told to just get on with it. Telling Ibrox that just increases their belief that they are facing a wide-ranging conspiracy. And that, too, focuses them on the wrong issues.
Celtic deserved the win. Tom English summed it up when he said that even if you accept the Ibrox complaints, even if the goal should have stood, there were 60 odd minutes left when it was chopped off and thus plenty of time to win the match. He scorned the idea that it was some sort of game-defining decision. It certainly was not that.
The defining moment of the game at the weekend came the moment Brendan Rodgers named his team. It was an expression of his confidence in himself and his decision making and it would have been as inspiring to the players themselves as 7000 of our fans would have been. The Mooch was utterly outclassed by Rodgers, not just in the game itself but in the run up to it when the biggest decisions were being made.
So all the whingeing in the world does not matter a damn. In fact, it is a distraction. The Ibrox allies in the media, as well as those who are paid to comment on a guy they don’t really understand, do them no favours.
It is glorious to observe this from our position at the top of the league.