Congratulations to all at Celtic on securing our fourth consecutive trophy. Those of us who lived through the 90s (and those who also lived through the 50s) know how precious these times are.
Collecting that trophy yesterday is not the act of a vastly better resourced club picking up what is their divine right. It is the consequence of over a century of struggle, denial and sacrifice. The current success of Celtic is as remarkable as it looked to be unlikely for much of its existence.
The reflective glory that shines on all of us is the gift of downtrodden ancestors who wanted to escape hardship. When the trophies arrive, celebrate a deliverance.
Throughout the first half yesterday Celtic were well below their normal incisiveness. You and I have seen so many League Cups slip away over the years against weaker opponents. At halftime I thought, “All it will take is a half-chance for Motherwell and it’s the same old story.” Instead, James Forrest found the breakthrough and Craig Gordon (and the post) were up to the job when called upon.
Motherwell manager Steve Robinson has done very well but he set himself up for a fall after beating Newco in the semi-final. Pedro Caixinha was correct predicted Motherwell would not finished the final with 11 men on the field.
The get-into-their-face/leg/body approach was Motherwell’s best strategy for taking on Celtic (and Newco), but there’s no point crying about the consequences afterwards, when you lose.
There has been more heat than light shed on the penalty incident, a consequence of seasonal pantomime analysis. Ask any referee the question he is trained to ask himself in this scenario:
What is Kirpe’s arm doing across Scott Sinclair?
His arm is there to inhibit his opponent. No one will be able to give you an alternative scenario.
The incident would have been a foul and a yellow card anywhere else on the field. That is the statutory punishment for putting an arm round opponent in possession, unless it is a goal-scoring opportunity, in which case the card should be red.
It is unacceptable for a player to fall to the ground when he was not fouled, but not only is it acceptable to fall when you have been fouled, it is expected, unless you want the referee to play advantage.
I do feel sorry for Kipre, who by that stage of the game must have assumed his could foul and hack with impunity, but as well as pumping him up to play this brand of robust football, his manager should educate him on the consequences of putting an arm around and in front of an opponent inside the box.
There is a lesson here for Celtic too. When we lose a cup (or a game), it is likely to be when we concede a penalty and a red card.
Chris Sutton and Neil Lennon: love your work, but your performances on TV yesterday is why good analysts learn the guidelines given to referees. Stick to baiting Newco fans and finishing second in the league respectively.
Moussa, love your work too, but I don’t like penalties that go right down the middle of the goal. Note that every keeper in the land watched yesterday’s game and many will gamble on your repeating the exercise next time you face them from the spot. This is a tactic you must use sparingly.
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