Sutton sees through Neilson – “He’s obviously trying to put a bit of pressure on the match officials”

Chris Sutton is by a country-mile the best football pundit in the Scottish game when it comes to covering Celtic and as is usually the case on a Saturday morning, he hits the nail on the head – while hoping it doesn’t fall off – when he previews the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Tynecastle at lunchtime today when Hearts ‘welcome’ Celtic.

James Forrest of Celtic sores the opening goal during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh. Photo Neil Hanna / Sportimage

As it’s a Scottish Cup tie of some significance the Celtic support will be there in higher numbers than would otherwise have been the case for a league match and they will make sure that their presence is felt and their voices heard as they roar on the Hoops today.

 22nd October 2022. Referee Nick Walsh signals a penalty to hearts after consulting var during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle. Photo: Neil Hanna / Sportimage 

“Make no mistake, this is a huge Scottish Cup tie. And thanks to Robbie Neilson lighting the blue touch paper, there should be an extra level of spice to proceedings,” Sutton, who turned 50 yesterday,  stated in his Daily Record column this morning. Sutton also sees through the post-match ploy from Celtic Park the other night where the Hearts manager made his latest bizarre comments after losing to Ange Postecoglou’s side.

That Sutton reckons was intentional, and was all about influencing the match officials today – remember the two penalties Hearts got against Celtic in October and of course the one James Forrest was denied and the perfectly good goal from Anthony Ralston was disallowed for no apparent reason. That’s the kind of advantage Neilson is after yet it can be noted with some satisfaction that all that wasn’t enough for Hearts as Celtic still found a way and ran out 4-3 winners.

“I wouldn’t slaughter the Hearts manager for his comments after the game the other night. He’s entitled to his opinion and he’s obviously trying to put a bit of pressure on the match officials. Neilson’s had previous with this kind of stuff though. It seems like every time his side loses to Celtic there’s a moan about something – even correct decisions,” Chris Sutton stated.

Daizen Maeda left celebrates with Celtic s Reo Hatate after Celtic’s third goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle on Saturday October 22, 2022. Photo Jane Barlow

“I remember he once complained about a goal being given when it was close to the line. Replays showed it was a mile over but Neilson claimed there was no way the officials could have known it! Good effort Robbie. His gripe the other night was similar. The Alexandro Bernabei challenge was never a red card in a month of Sundays.

“Excessive force? A tickling stick would cause more damage. Callum McGregor was on the end of a worse one at Tynecastle a few games back and Neilson argued it didn’t merit a red. As for needing a decapitation to get a red card at Celtic Park? I’m not sure about that as we’ve seen a couple of sendings off this season.

“Don’t forget there were a few dodgy calls that went his side’s way the last time Celtic were at Tynecastle as well. But Neilson went in two feet on the officials the other night and if he thinks it might put a seed of doubt in the minds of the referee then he might think it was worth it. Either way Celtic will have their hands full.

Celtic s Greg Taylor celebrates scoring the winning goal at Tynecastle Saturday October 22, 2022. Photo Jane Barlow

“I didn’t buy the talk Hearts somehow had the measure of Celtic the other night. They might have done better than most at Celtic Park but Joe Hart had the pipe and slippers out. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Hearts will be a proper threat to Celtic today. Far from it.”

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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