What’s the last thing Ange Postecoglou says to the Celtic players before a game?

Sorry to tease but I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do think is that the following might feature highly in Ange’s pre-match talks…..Expect nothing from the officials and you won’t be disappointed.

I say that because last season, I lost count of the number of times Greg Taylor’s runs into the opposition’s box ended up with him on the ground. Play was invariably waved on whilst he was still on the ground protesting for a free kick.

Greg Taylor of Celtic scores Celtic’s winning goal during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle. Photo Neil Hanna / Sportimage

He hasn’t done that this season and in a recent game his backside hardly hit the floor before scrambling to his feet and playing on. He knew he wasn’t getting a foul. Matt O’Riley’s use of the word “strange” in his post match interview on Saturday to describe some of the decisions in recent games spoke volumes. We all recognise a euphemism when we hear one.

Ange has entered a period of purdah with regard to VAR having been critical of it for its detrimental effect on games. I think his current silence is the correct because you cannot let these things affect you. If you do, it will become a distraction for him and the players.

Those of us of a certain age will remember Rafa Benitez’s rant about “facts” when Liverpool were top of the English Premier League. He stated that Alex Ferguson was playing mind games and Manchester United were getting favourable treatment. It showed a weakness in Benitez with Ferguson living rent free in his head. Inevitably Manchester United overtook Liverpool and won the league that season. Note to Ange, keep your own counsel and…..Illegitimi nil carborundum.

Having said that, the fans should call it out. There are issues with VAR such as the camera on the 18 yard line not being in operation for the Jota “goal” and, in some cases, the length of time to come to a decision, which severely disrupts the flow of games. To borrow a word from Steve Clarke’s vocabulary, I will be “disappointed” if Crawford Allan doesn’t sort that out during the break.

And now we come to the real issue, which is the standard of refereeing in Scotland. In true Rafa style, here are some “facts”.

I only saw the highlights of Saturday’s game with Ross County but couldn’t believe the stats. We had 75% possession and committed 14 fouls. That means we fouled them once every 1.5 minutes during their periods of possession.

By contrast, they were awarded 5 fouls, which is equivalent to them fouling us once every 13.5 minutes. This is a team packing their defence, under pressure for large parts of the game and desperately needing points to lift them from the wrong end of the table. I note they also got 3 yellow cards, which couldn’t have been for persistent fouling, so 60% of their fouls were so bad that a yellow card was produced. These figure are extraordinary but sadly not uncommon.

In the previous game against Motherwell, which I did see, we had 71% possession and committed 11 fouls (1 every 2.5 minutes, when they had possession). Motherwell fouled our players 7 times or once every 9 minutes when we were in possession. Bear in mind Motherwell have committed more fouls to date than any other team in the SPFL. What was evident was that when their players went down in tussles for the ball, they were almost always awarded a free kick. When a Celtic player went down play was normally waved on. How strange.

I could come up with more “facts” from other games but what’s the point? The only three certainties in life are death, taxes and dodgy refereeing. We will all be paying more tax after Thursday and I don’t see the standard of refereeing improving after the break. Why would it when the powers that be don’t recognise there is a problem?

The manager and the players need to stay positive in the face of such adversity and not let it get into their heads. The fans should continue to highlight it and the club need to raise major concerns with the Seriously Flawed Association (SFA).

We are told to suck it up by opposition managers and are accused of paranoia in the media. One last thought……just because we are paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us.


Christopher Wotherspoon

READ THIS…Celtic in Australia, 1977 – Winners of the World of Soccer Cup

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


  1. Turning the star into click bait, after your first admittance I didn’t bother reading the article and will block you, sad demise paul boyd

    • Hi Paul, not sure if you’ll read this, just like you didn’t read the article I suppose. The headline was the work of our contributor who very occasionally writes and has zero interest in click-baiting you or anyone else. He also makes an interesting observation or two in there. Pity you missed it.

      Next thing to do here is some click bait on a match from 1902. It is not really a great season for Celtic, but there are nevertheless some good players at Celtic Park. Today for example in a 4-2 win over Partick Thistle, young Jimmy Quinn scores twice, Peter Somers once and Paddy (who has the unlikely nickname of “Larky”) Murray once…


  2. For officials to be this bad means either they’ve never been properly trained, or they are corrupt!

    …it looks like both in a lot of cases!

    Whatever it is, its a problem!

  3. Martin O’Hare on

    The fouling stats and possession stats and fouls per minute of possession need to be highlighted time and time again. The fact that the rough boys’ tactics against us are not being curtailed means that our players are being kicked time and time again with impunity. Moreover, when our players tackle the ref just can not wait to give a foul against us. This has been going on for years, but the stats draw attention to the institutionalised cheating going on. Why is it that the most attacking team in the league gets so few penalties? It is pathetic. But such words are not adequate. It is someone with a lawyer’s mind or a lawyer with savvy, wisdom and tenacity that will get the corrupt to scamper. The last time they were challenged by such a lawyer over 20 years ago had the SFA running scared and there were signs that their game was up or at least not so blatantly unchecked.We need a lawyer to take them to task and to highlight how all the stats, decisions and personnel employed by the peepel demonstrate beyond any doubt that the whole show is rotten to the core. Yet with Ian Bankier and his ilk still at the helm nothing will be done. Meanwhile, the fans’ media platforms need to keep on shining a light on the ‘strange’ or bewildering fouls and possession stats and the fouls per min count because they are off-the-scale bewildering. Keep raising these stats at the press conferences because the numbers do not lie and defeats the lie that the rules are applied objectively.