Derek McInnes' defence of Sam Cosgrove's Celtic Park challenge is nonsensical

By David Walton

December 22, 2019

Sam Cosgrove’s red card came about due to a dangerous and reckless challenge, but Derek McInnes’ justification for it was just as stupid.

Celtic overcame Aberdeen after what ended up a tough battle as we won 2-1 at Parkhead yesterday. Cosgrove had initially canceled out Christopher Jullien’s opener. Odsonne Edouard, however, would prove the difference-maker as he made it 2-1 in the second half.

Minutes after that Edouard goal, Cosgrove launched in with a lunge on Kristoffer Ajer. The referee correctly sent the Dons striker off, much to the bemusement of McInnes.

Sam Cosgrove (right) was sent off at Parkhead (Scott Baxter/Getty Images)

Here’s what the Aberdeen manager told his club’s official website post-match:

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“If he goes in at speed and hits the player at any point then you can understand the referee sending him off. When you go in at speed like that you have to make sure you get the ball and 100% it is a brilliant tackle.

“He maybe does not need to go in as quick as he does, but he has won the ball cleanly. If Sam Cosgrove hits Ajer going at that speed, Ajer is hurt. And the boy is clearly not hurt. It is a brilliant tackle.”

Is McInnes making up a new rule?

So McInnes seems to think that, what makes it a great tackle is the fact he didn’t manage to catch Ajer. At what part of the rulebook does it say you need to catch an opposition player in order for it to be a sending off?

Derek McInnes is making up his own rulebook (Scott Baxter/Getty Images)

IFAB guidelines state serious foul play is deemed a red card. They define it as “A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality” (Page 111).

Can McInnes really keep a straight face and say that Cosgrove’s challenge wasn’t excessive force? He already states that he doesn’t need to go in with the speed that he does. If that’s not an admittance of recklessness then what is?

If it was Scott Brown going in with a challenge like that, McInnes would be the first one post-match to come out and lambast him for it. You have to take incidents like this in isolation, and Cosgrove can have no complaints.

Cosgrove (right) went in on Ajer yesterday (David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

It’s difficult to pinpoint his motivation for such a dangerous tackle too. The fact we had maybe just gone 2-1 ahead could’ve helped Cosgrove see the red mist of course.

McInnes is also forgetting that Ajer actually has to move his leg away in order to not get caught by the challenge. You can view it for yourself below and make your own mind up. For us, however, it’s a clear sending off, and the kind of challenge that can clearly harm an opposing player.