Sunday, 16 December 2007

ICT v Celtic - The "logic" of the Scottish football media: One wrong makes a wrong, two wrongs make a right

Celtic were just not good enough today. The defence is a shambles and for over 2 years now I've been saying that we have decent journeymen SPL pros at the back but Celtic should be aiming for a higher standard. Watching today and from what I have seen on occassion previously in the season, I sometimes wonder how we managed to get to the 2nd round of the Champions League again. However Strachan seems to rate McManus, Caldwell and Pressley highly.

Having said that - a couple of important decisions went against Celtic today. I was watching the game on Setanta and was not surprised when Scott Booth managed to convince himself, but probably not the viewing public, that the award of a penalty to Caley Thistle was correct. I have noticed a recurring pattern in incidents such as this involving Celtic where an opposing player has fallen spectacularly in the Celtic penalty box. The first pictures in real time are inconclusive, but with each replay, the summariser and commentator manage to talk themselves into the opinion that the referee was correct and by the fifth replay they are highlighting the fact that a bead of sweat from the Celtic defender's brow brushed his opponent's shinpad.

The one breath of fresh air in this instance came in the shape of Frank McAvennie, who at half time came straight out and said it was never a penalty, despite Rob MacLean's pleas that there might have been the slightest of contact (as if this would merit a penalty award anyway) and the five replays shown to try to convince the rest of us. John Robertson squirmed awkwardly in his seat as, in the absence of Burley or Dodds to toe the party line with some fudge about the merest of contact, he had to admit that Celtic had been the victims of a refereeing mistake.

Now, in last week's post I said that the Scottish media have a compulsion to apply negative spin to almost any situation regarding Celtic and today was a prime example of this.

Consider the key decisions in the match -

  • Penalty awarded to ICT - Incorrect: Celtic disadvantaged
  • Celtic goal disallowed@ 2-2 - Incorrect: Celtic disadvantaged
  • Proctor of ICT sent off for last man foul - Correct no advantage/disadvantage

Given the circumstances outlined above any sensible person might assume that a significant part of the post match analysis would have centered around these events and the adverse effect they had on Celtic's efforts to win the game.

Well, any sensible person would be wrong. Instead Setanta's motley crew of Rob, Robbo and Steve Lovell (in his post match interview with Craig Brewster), chose bizarrely to harp on about the fact that Steven Pressley was not sent off after the award of the penalty, even though all three acknowledged that the penalty should never have been given in the first place.

Yes in a classic example of Scottish football's Orwellian media doublethink, our much reveered pundits managed to somehow turn a situation in which Celtic had been severely disadvantaged by the referee, into one where he had somehow done us a massive favour! Robertson was even moved to comment - "This is the kind of situation that fuels conspiracy theories of bias in favour of the Old Firm".


On an aside, this reference to this ever elusive entity "The Old Firm", reminded me of the unpleasant experience of watching Sportscene's results programme at Saturday tea time. Not only was there the disappointment of the creamers scoring a jammy late winner, but I was almost put off my dinner (no mean feat) by having to listen to Cosgrove and Nevin debating whether the decision to allow Rangers' request postpone their leage fixture against Gretna was another example of bias towards the Old Firm.

Do you think the SPL would grant Celtic a postponement of all of our league games till Febraury by which time Naka will be back and we might have bought a few good defenders [crosses fingers and toes]?

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Was the Daily Record actually disappointed that Celtic qualified for the 2nd phase of the Champions League?

The following are two truncated articles relating to Celtic's final Champions League group fixture against AC Milan in the San Siro.

One is taken from Scotland's best selling tabloid, the Daily Record, and the other from the ENGLISH edition of the Sun newspaper (via their website). You would not be labelled completely paranoid if you thought the Scottish publication might look a wee bit more favourably on Celtic's success (yes we have to remind ourselves that it was indeed a success) and even embellish the occassion with a smattering of positive spin.

After all we've just spent the last week or so listening to a Scottish media spin machine espousing the virtue of allowing a small, hard pressed and impoverished Glasgow club postpone their league fixture against high flying Gretna this weekend, so that they may gird their loins and take up their cudgels at full strength and do battle against the European foe under the banner of the St. Andrews flag. This is in all our interests we are told.

I would ask you also to consider and compare the mild hysteria that followed the best ever 0-0 draw in the history of European football at Ibrox a few weeks back and also the almost as impressive 0-2 victory in the Nou Camp. 180 minutes without scoring a goal and we are led to believe this mob are a European force.

Anyway with all that in mind, can you guess which of these articles was published by the Scottish tabloid and which by the English? (I've alternated a paragraph from each throughout for easier comparison)

"KAKA was handed the glittering Ballon D’Or and Pippo Inzaghi broke the all-time Euro goal record. But Celtic grabbed the golden ticket to the last 16 of the Champions League on a glory night in the San Siro."

"GORDON STRACHAN saw Celtic stagger into the last 16 of the Champions League last night despite defeat in Italy - then admitted his side must cure the travel sickness which follows them around Europe. It might have been the kind of contest that would get the Champions League stopped. It may have been another away defeat, the 15th in 16 attempts to be exact. And it may also have been inflicted upon them by an AC Milan side that spent much of the night doing little more than going through the motions"

"Brazilian superstar Kaka was rightly acclaimed by home fans as the best footballer on the planet. Inzaghi, whose two goals won last season’s Champions League final, then bagged the only goal. But if the Milan aces deserve praise and prizes, there’s no doubt Celtic also merit their place among Europe’s elite"

"Milan, who had already booked their place in the knock-out stages with a game to spare, were able to rest more than half a team and were also able to operate without even the slightest anxiety. There will be time to pause and reflect on the fact they were undone by a patchwork and less than committed Milan side and to ponder on just how much work Strachan still has to do to make this team capable of cutting it against the game's greatest sides.[Does beating them 2-1 not count as "cutting it"???]"

"One glorious qualification from the group phase by Gordon Strachan’s heroes is commendable. But to repeat the feat in back-to-back seasons is without question one of the club’s greatest achievements of the modern era. The defeat to Kaka and Co didn’t matter as Benfica scored an unlikely win away to Shakhtar Donetsk. For the second successive year, three home wins at Fortress Parkhead have carried Strachan’s stars beyond the group phase. They didn’t get the away point they thought they’d need. They didn’t get a first ever win away from Parkhead."

Gordon Strachan and his players could not finish the job themselves and now go on from Group D only because of Benfica's win in Donetsk. [nothing to do with home wins over the European champions AC Milan, Benfica and Shaktar Donetsk of course, Celtic were the benefactors of a benevolent act of charity] But Scotland's champions are through to the last 16 for the second successive season regardless and that is one almighty achievement. [shock stunner, positive comment after only the 230 words!]

"But not one of the Celts — and not a single soul among the 5,000 away fans in the San Siro — seemed to mind. The Champions League theme tune will echo around all corners of Parkhead again in the New Year. And Strachan, the little man whose reputation grows with every passing Euro achievement, will want to drive them even further. The gaffer has already insisted there are “no limits” to where his young side can go in this tourney. They certainly will enter the last 16 without a hint of fear, even if they will be without Scott Brown."

"The reaction of the travelling army said it all. They nervously counted down the clock behind Artur Boruc after Filippo Inzaghi's goal had put Milan in front and made their team's plight too perilous for comfort. There was a lack of interest from the locals who arrived at the San Siro in dribs and drabs until it was, at best, half full. And when they took their seats they found that Carlo Ancelotti had opted to drop an entire defence, a keeper and a striker. Yes, for the Italians at least, it was that kind of night. Low key and all a bit of a fuss about nothing. For Celtic and their followers, however, it seldom gets any bigger."

"Brown blazed wastefully across the face of goal on 56 minutes after a long ball from McManus. The midfield terrier must sit out the first leg after a rash booking for a foul on Clarence Seedorf. But that and Inzaghi’s 70th-minute winner were the only dark clouds on the night for Celts. Cafu surged to the bye-line and cut the ball back for a trademark tap-in inside the six-yard box. It was tough on Celtic after they had summoned up every ounce of desire, determination and drive. Aiden McGeady almost levelled inside a couple of minutes as Kalac clutched his free kick under the bar after he’d been floored by Massimo Ambrosini."

"Every now and then, when they could be bothered, Milan would work their way into a dangerous position but these were fleeting, almost half-hearted attacks. It was only when captain Stephen McManus and little menace Scott Brown [Interesting use of adjective there. Presumably this is in contrast to the silky Barry, Charlie Adam and Lee McCulloch] and demanded their attention that they finally began to focus on the job in hand. Incredibly, Celtic cut Milan open with a single punt from McManus that dropped deep inside Milan's half. Brown was clean through but his sliced shot travelled so wide that it came close to going out for a throw-in. [Obviously if Davie Weir had made the same pass this would be described as a majestic piece of play worthy of Beckenbauer]

"After another display of his individual brilliance, the samba star probably felt he deserved a goal. Kaka had grabbed the prize and Inzaghi earned the praise. But the glory all belonged to Celtic."

"Suddenly Celtic were behind and reduced to praying for Benfica to stay strong. To their great delight, those prayers were answered and Celtic could celebrate."

Yes, Celtic were reduced to begging for help from other teams. So to speak.