Giorgos Giakoumakis’ opening goal and all-round impressive performance helped Celtic claim a place in the Scottish Cup fifth round with Saturday’s fourth round victory over Alloa Athletic in Clackmannanshire.
However, the 2-1 scoreline was only part of the story as Callum McGregor, Liel Abada and Yosuke Ideguchi were all forced to leave the game with varying degrees of injuries, with the captain’s injury described as ‘significant’ by manager Ange Postecoglou.
Now Giakoumakis has admitted – as reported by Football Scotland – Saturday’s game refereed by Don Robertson, an official with previous form when it comes to a lack of protection for Celtic players, was ‘too dangerous’ and ‘over the limit’ with the striker admitting the players tried ultimately unsuccessfully to stay away from harm.
“First of all I have to wish him (McGregor) the best of luck for a speedy recovery. He’s a leader for us. Maybe it’s something serious. We’ll miss him a lot, he’s a key player for us and I hope he will return as soon as possible.
“The game against Alloa was out of (over) the limit. It was too dangerous – the duels, the marking. We had to get through it and take the win and, if it was possible, to stay away from harm. We didn’t achieve that part.”
“I can say that the opponent didn’t have the quality that we do. That’s normal, with respect. They had to try to run more than us and be more aggressive in the duels.
“Sometimes they crossed the line and the marking was a little bit more tough. But we should take care of ourselves too.”
Giorgos Giakoumakis is quite right, the lines between robustness and illegality were certainly blurred on Saturday night, and when referees are unwilling to offer the protection the laws of the game stipulate, then it is certainly time Celtic as a club asked questions of the SFA when it comes to ensuring the safety of their employees going forward, something Brian McNally award winning sports writer and a journalist with 20 years’ experience has also raised.
‘Don Robertson gave Celtic players little protection. He ignored the shoulder into McGregor’s face that’s inflicted a bad injury, same with Salmon elbow on Welsh plus assault on Jota. Tackle that crocked Ideguchi was a red. Time to complain?’
Don Robertson gave #Celtic players little protection.He ignored the shoulder into McGregor’s face that’s inflicted a bad injury, same with Salmon elbow on Welsh plus assault on Jota. Tackle that crocked Ideguchi was a red. Time to complain?
— Brian McNally (@McNallyMirror) January 22, 2022
Brian McNally may well know fine his call to the Celtic Board to complain publicly will fall on deaf ears, however the back-channel approach from the club appears to be having no influence.
For a mainstream journalist to go public with his thoughts on the matter shows there is a serious issue at play here. As such Celtic have to stop the gentle persuasion techniques, and start going as public on the matter as Giorgos Giakoumakis and Brian McNally have done. After all, how serious do our players have to be hurt before someone on the Celtic Board calls it out.
And Ange Postecoglou, it should be remembered, was warned about these Scottish referees by this very site before a ball was kicked.