Ange Postecoglou's referee criticism marks watershed moment for Celtic boss

By Euan Davidson

January 25, 2022

Here’s the thing; up until yesterday, had you heard Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou question a refereeing decision?

Postecoglou, who has been steadfast in his choice not to openly critique Scottish officials, has been a refreshing change of pace. Every manager of note in Scotland has “blasted” the refs at some point this season; largely because they’ve been continuously awful.

Or in the perspective of our rivals, not awful enough.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Yet, Postecoglou has refused to become mired in that debate. The “debate” being a seemingly never-ending one about bias, consistency, competence and lagging behind just about everyone when it comes to VAR.

After a particularly contentious double-yellow for Carl Starfelt against Ross County, Postecoglou retained his stance; he wasn’t going to bother criticising referees [Daily Record]. For him, it’s always been about making the referee irrelevant, and Celtic’s performances speaking for themselves.

Until yesterday. Largely, because referee Don Robertson let tackles go that were legitimately dangerous. Specifically, Alloa man Niang’s tackle on Yosuke Ideguchi, which could’ve been a genuine ankle-breaker. Somehow, it was only given a yellow.

Now, Postecoglou isn’t going to turn into a whine-merchant overnight. Nor, do you feel, is he consistently going to call out referees when he can avoid doing so. It doesn’t seem in his nature.

But if even someone as measured as Postecoglou feels compelled to speak out, well; we have a problem here, don’t we?

McGregor blow, but O’Riley & Hatate may be about to star for Celtic | Jackie McNamara on 67HH

McGregor blow, but O’Riley & Hatate may be about to star for Celtic | Jackie McNamara on 67HH
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

If measured Celtic gaffer Ange Postecoglou has had enough, then there’s a serious problem

Again; the issue here isn’t the prospect of Ange Postecoglou “changing course” or “doing a 180 on refs”, etc. The pressing point here is that the standard of refereeing in Scotland is so shoddy that even Ange Postecoglou isn’t happy.

It’s not because a red card would’ve changed the game for Celtic when Niang made his tackle on Ideguchi. The preferred outcome is that referees don’t affect the match like that anyway. Postecoglou, as any manager worth their salt should, wants to beat teams with the merit and determination shown by Celtic, rather than because a referee has changed the game with cards or decisions.

No, it’s because this was a legitimately dangerous one. And from the same referee who failed to show Calum Butcher a red card for a challenge on David Turnbull. Butcher would subsequently receive a three-match ban [Sky Sports].

Photo by Callum Landells/Getty Images

At the risk of alienating the reader here, referees have a really hard job. They do. But how does everyone but the referee see how dangerous, high and late the challenge on Ideguchi was? It’s injured the player, in the end, and that says it all.

Postecoglou has gotten to the point where, against type, he’s wondering aloud why a red card wasn’t given. Everyone saw it. This can only happen so many times before a manager’s patience wears to nothing.

So, it’s not about what this says about Ange Postecoglou.

It’s about what this says about the standards of officiating in Scottish football to a manager that’s seen it all.

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