Lee Johnson blasts referee Steven McLean after Celtic beat Hibs

By John McGinley

March 18, 2023

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson has taken a dim view of today’s officiating at Celtic Park, as Ange Postecoglou’s Bhoys emerged as 3-1 winners.

Hibs were reduced to ten men in the first have after Elie Youan picked up a second yellow card for a high boot on defender Cameron Carter-Vickers. Referee Steven McLean then awarded a penalty for each team, scored by Josh Campbell and Jota.

Eventually, Celtic’s quality and persistence in attack shone through against a defensively determined Hibs side, but after the game Johnson took aim at McLean, feeling he got all of his big decisions incorrect.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Speaking in a post-match media event, the Hibs man said [Clyde 1]: “You have to point fingers at the referee’s performance. You have to. How on earth can that be a sending off? Physically, I thought it was a foul against Elie Youan. The centre-half pulls and pushes him, then by the time Youan connects with his head he’s blooming about five foot two. He’s got his back to goal, he doesn’t know where he is and he’s been out-muscled. Maybe a foul, maybe not a foul. It’s definitely not a yellow card.

“This is the problem with VAR because there’s a grey area and it has to be clear and obvious for them to turn it around. He’s just had a really poor performance, it just bugs me because clubs like us we need all teams on point and today we were and they weren’t.

“I think both penalties are not a penalty because if that’s the case I want to see a penalty for almost every box entry. He was keen to look for any contact. That’s got to be consistent. His position was very hunched and looking for any sort of contact. There’s got to be consistency across the league on stuff like that. You’d be giving 100 penalties every matchday across the Scottish leagues if both of those penalties are indeed penalties.

Hibs put up a good fight today, especially in the circumstances of having a man down, so Johnson is understandably disappointed they didn’t salvage something from the game.

Ultimately Celtic deserved the win today and Youan was taking a risk with his Carter-Vickers tussle given he was already on a yellow card.

However, you can see Johnson’s argument in that all of the big calls today were on the soft side of an increasingly random officiating scale in this league. McLean didn’t have a great grasp on proceedings at all.

Looking at the summaries of other games across Scotland today, it seems poor refereeing and the use of VAR have been talking points in many places. Refereeing here isn’t getting any better despite the introduction of expensive technology.

In other news, Ange Postecoglou reacts to huge Hyeongyu Oh moment at Celtic Park.