I don’t want to go down the line of conspiracy theories – as a Celtic fan I, just like many of you know doubt, get accused of that enough.
But there’s one moment at Ibrox yesterday I just can’t wrap my head around. Okay, so there were some Neil Lennon decisions that bemused me a touch too after we went down to 10 men. But in terms of flashpoints, this was concerning.
Why on earth did Bobby Madden physically restrain Alfredo Morelos during an altercation with Scott Brown?
Sure, some may say it was in good faith. After all, wasn’t Madden just trying to keep things level-headed and avoid it all spilling over? Yeah, you could say that, but that should only be happening to an extent.
But there’s a line that’s been crossed here. Putting your arms out to try and stop two players from going towards each other is sensible. Physically grabbing another player to desperately halt him from committing what could be a red-card offence? That’s a touch over that line.
Celtic fans not pleased with Madden
It’s not Madden’s job to physically restrain players. If a player is a hothead like Morelos is and lashes out, that’s on him and Rangers. It’s down to James Tavernier or Morelos’ Ibrox teammates to haul him back. Not a neutral referee.
Now I’m not going to say Madden did this because he’s a Rangers fan. In truth, he probably genuinely thinks he’s trying to simmer the tension. But it’s not right. It’s not something you ever see anywhere else than in Scottish football.
Honestly, when’s the last time you’ve seen a referee physically restrain a player to that extent? It’s as if Madden really didn’t want to send him off. But if Morelos commits an act then he walks. It’s as simple as that. It’s down to the player to have self-restraint. It’s not down to the referee. Why has Madden chosen Morelos out of the amount of players involved in the scuffle? Hm.
This was even a moment that had neutral supporters questioning what was going on. But it certainly didn’t impress the Celtic fans either. Instead of being punished, Morelos has actually been rescued by the referee here. For whatever reason.
Here’s a look at some of the reaction to the bizarre incident:
Why didn’t Madden simply hold Bitton back to protect him from getting sent off? https://t.co/PkhBcL2TXH
— RG (@rossgraham7) January 2, 2021
This was odd.
Physically protecting Morelos from himself. https://t.co/CkZVBtASmT
— Tom Pearson (@tom7p) January 2, 2021
Surely there’s something no right with this https://t.co/BVK96EQJj3
— Mrs Broony (@charlenemcg) January 2, 2021
Bobby doing more to prevent Morelos being sent off than his own teammates 🥴😅 https://t.co/joUMmvHhNU
— Patrick McNicholas (@PatMcNicholas) January 2, 2021
If a player touches a referee, it's a cardinal sin. A referee can however manhandle a player, to prevent him from getting himself sent off…in Scotland. For Rangers. https://t.co/lJESbhQeD1
— Brian 🎗 (@DehumanisedDad) January 2, 2021
The ref holding back a rangers player when he should be sending that player off, sums up Scottish football and sums up the standard of refs we have https://t.co/DgQ7KugJcF
— 𝐂𝐀𝐈𝐓𝐋𝐈𝐍 𝐁𝐔𝐍𝐓𝐎𝐍 (@caitlin_bunton) January 2, 2021
Bobby madden hugging Morelos says it all really
— lfc wohn🇮🇪 (@lfcjohn_5) January 2, 2021
@ScottishFA Why is the referee manhandling a player instead of responding to his actions.
— craiglg (@craiglg1) January 2, 2021