PHILIPPE CLEMENT appears eager to present himself as a studious type of guy.

I had to smile when I read a newspaper reporter describe the Belgian as “an academic of the game”.

Professor Phil? Forgive me, dear reader, but I am not subscribing to any of that drivel and especially not when this managerial egghead attempts to defend the embarrassing antics of the transparent Fabio Silva.

I understand why this don of the dug-out would want to repel criticism of a player whose shameless play-acting is repellent to those who actually want to perform with the skills that are within the laws of the sport.

My information from an impeccable source is that the Portuguese poseur is picking up a whopping £49,000 per week for his mesmerising, turf-embracing endeavours in Govan.

Unusual sum of money that I can only surmise is 50 per cent of his wages at Wolves after the lucrative contract was negotiated in the summer of 2020 when they signed a ludicrous £35million cheque to buy the individual from Porto.

ON THE BAWL…Philippe Clement sees something to shout about at Ibrox.

He is under contract until June 2025 and it seems Silva, with a mere four goals in 62 Premier League appearances in the Midlands, is wanted by the club as much as an outbreak of cholera.

He has already had loan spells at Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven before fetching up at Ibrox, a move no doubt sanctioned by the scholar that is Big Phil.

So, that being the case, you would expect the manager to erect a barrier to protect his player. When you watch Silva run straight into Alistair Johnston – as he did in the first-half – and then go down clutching so many parts of his anatomy at the same time you would have been fogiven for believing he had just been drop-kicked by a particularly bad-tempered gorilla.

As he rolled around in agony and looking as though he was about to draw his last breath, I made a mental note to add him to Bogart, Mitchum, De Niro, Pacino, Nicholson, Hackman, Hoffman and McQueen in my list of all-time Hollywood greats.

Clement, this illuminati of the touchline, had a better view than your humble scribe as his player went through his dying swan repertoire. To his discredit, this sage of soccer appealed for referee John Beaton to take action.

ACT 1…Fabio Silva in ‘agony’ after coming within touching distance of Liam Scales.

Alas, the gullible match official bought the act and produced a yellow card for the Celtic defender. Was anyone surprised? I said here before the game to beware the amount of bookings the visitors would pick up in the early stages to leave them on the tightrope without a safety net in sight.

One more so-called indiscretion would see the whistler reach for a second yellow leading to red and it was game over. As well as Johnston, Nicolas Kuhn was nonsensically cautioned for ‘persistent’ fouling which must have surprised everyone on the planet with the exception of po-faced Beaton.

Matt O’Riley, too, managed to attract the attention of the beady-eyed possessor of the silver whistle after a nothing challenge on Mohamed Diamande. The referee produced the yellow card in THREE seconds. That’s a quickfire draw Wyatt Earp would have been proud to possess.

Anyone with half an idea of what the beautiful game is all about may have thought the home players were attempting to get an opponent into trouble, working on the principle it is easier to perform against 10 men than the full complement.

Frankly, it’s an insult to anyone who witnessed the amateur theatrics of Silva to insist we have all got it wrong and this grass-hugging character is the epitome of sporting ethos.

Earlier in the contest, there was the merest touch from Liam Scales that sent the acrobatic performer into a pathetic trampolining routine around the penalty box in apparent paroxyms of unendurable pain.

When no-one took any notice and the staff at the local A&E were told to stand down, Silva got back to his feet and prepared for his next curtain call.

It didn’t take too long and poor Alistair Johnston copped a booking shortly afterwards.

ACT 2…Fabio Silva writhes in ‘pain’ after running into Alistair Johnston.

Clement rallied to the cause yesterday when he answered the condemnation of Silva and, as reported in my old newspaper the Daily Record, said: “It is not justified in everything because I see that some people, again with coloured glasses, throw everything on the same pile.

“There were two actions which I was not happy with him about and I show him today also about that. He should have been stronger in the duel and he was not strong enough. In other moments, he got really kicked.

“He’s also got two really deep marks in his calves after this game, cuts from the studs. There were a few actions where he could go down because there was a severe tackle or duel, and two where there were not that I’ve talked to him about.”

Quizzed on the player’s footballing culture possibly being the root of the problem, this towering intellectual of the spherical sport snapped: “No. Don’t start to create now – and this is what people on the other side try to do – a sort of narrative around him, because he’s not been doing that in other games.”

Stud marks? Is philosopher Phil telling us Celtic players kicked his precious property? Sky Sports paid their usual detailed attention to everything that occurred in Govan on Sunday, so maybe Phil could ask them to replay footage to emphasise these injurious assaults on his player?

Finding clips of someone in a green-and-white hooped jersey kicking Silva may prove to be as futile as attempting to empty an ocean with a teaspoon.

ACT 3…Fabio Silva gets a close-up view of a worm at Ibrox to earn a penalty-kick. 

And what about the lap of honour after the game? His team had failed to beat the champions in three attempts – two losses and a draw – and they had fluffed the opportunity to take championship aspirations into their own hands on this occasion.

A win for the hosts on Sunday would have meant Brendan Rodgers’ men looking for favours elsewhere with the finishing line to the main prize in sight.

Celtic could rattle in ten at Parkhead in the next derby fixture in the east end of Glasgow and it wouldn’t have mattered a jot if Big Phil masterminded wins in his club’s other encounters.

Bizarrely, the Belgian scholar insisted the six-goal stalemate was a “moral victory” for his club.

“First, what happens with the team?” he blethered. “We go behind after 22 seconds. Then you go 2-0 behind in an Old Firm.

“It is more than 30 years since a team came back in that situation. We score in extra time with a very good goal. You cannot be happy with that?

“It would be a little bit weird. But I read a lot of comments. It is a funny thing is this town – everybody has coloured glasses for sure around the Old Firm.

“There are a lot of comments about everything, but I don’t care what people with coloured glasses are saying. It is not important for me.”

A lap of honour? In front of the fans who had raised the Ibrox rafters with a shrieking cacophony of boos and jeers at the interval?

Beware premature exultation, Phil.

It rarely ends well.


Click Here for Comments >

About Author