ROBBIE NEILSON came ear-splittingly close to registering on the Richter Scale with his extraordinary outburst in the east end of Glasgow on Wednesday night.
The Hearts manager, clearly disappointed in his team’s 3-1 loss to Celtic, adopted an ill-advised scattergun approach when his larynx went overdrive as he related to a so-called flashpoint incident in the first-half.
Rabid Robbie reckoned the hosts’ left-back Alexandro Bernabei should have been punished for a challenge on his player, Nathaniel Atkinson.
“Usually when you come to Parkhead, you need decapitation before they get a red card against them,” declared wide-eyed Neilson.
Ludicrously, he added: “It wasn’t to be. It was nearly a leg off. My opinion he’s got to at least book him.”
Nearly a leg off? A mere yellow card? Doesn’t seem appropriate somehow.
GOING IN…Alexando Bernabei stretches to challenge Hearts’ Nathianel Atkinson.
GOING DOWN…Bernabei and Atkinson are grounded after the coming-together.
FOUL…referee Alan Muir gives Hearts a free-kick after the challenge, but there are no protests from Atkinson’s team-mates.
Of course, the Hearts gaffer is allowed to let off steam. It’s great copy for newspapers, welcome mana for other media outlets and wonderful soundbites for TV and radio.
However, you have to wonder about the timing of his ‘considered’ viewpoint. Neilson may even feel a little betrayed by his own players at the moment Bernabei made contact with Atkinson. That there was a slight impact is not in dispute. The Celt did connect with his opponent as he stretched to win a tackle.
It was not in any way nasty and that was borne out by the fact none of the Hearts player’s team-mates raced menacingly in the direction of the grounded Celt or surrounded referee Alan Muir with waving arms and all sorts of gestures for a card.
To keep everyone satisfied, VAR operator Nick Walsh reviewed the incident and didn’t even deem it necessary for the match official to look again at the moment on the trackside monitor.
Neilson still had the remainder of the first-half, a 15-minute interval and the whole of the second-half plus stoppage-time to calm down.
At time-up, he couldn’t wait to have his say. By the way, it may be prudent to point out that Atkinson, who apparently had come perilously close to parting with a limb, played the entire game.
John Wayne would have been proud of such courage. If there is ever a remake of The Alamo, the Hearts man is a cert for the leading role.
ACTION REPLAY…Robbie Neilson and his Hearts backroom staff check the dug-out monitor.
SEE YOU LATER…Ange Postecoglou and Robbie Neilson after their exchange at the final whistle.
Neilson was an adequate defender in his playing days and must realise more than most that there will be physical coming-togethers in a contact spot. I cannot ever recall confusing his style of play with that of Franz Beckenbauer.
The ball would often come back to earth with snow when he was around. None of this keep-the-ball-on-the-deck nonsense for our Robbie.
So, what was the point of his rant in midweek? Was it to get in early to attempt to highlight perceived injustices when Hearts play Celtic? Would this afternoon’s match official Kevin Clancy or VAR official Willie Collum take extra notice and be swayed to his way of thinking?
Could it draw Ange Postecoglou into a response and possibly obscure the objectivity of the Celtic manager?
Robbie’s diatribe won’t interfere with Ange’s thinking in the slightest and we have to hope the decision-makers at Tynecastle will give it the attention it deserves.
Hear today and gone tomorrow, methinks.
Ange Postecoglou and his players will do their talking where it actually matters – on the pitch.
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