OPINION is the wilderness between knowledge and ignorance.
A wise old philosopher delivered that line a few centuries ago.
How apt that observation is today as the talking heads pontificate while delivering their considered viewpoints on controversial incidents on the football field.
It’s incomprehensible to believe anyone who can differentiate between a ball and a banana would insist Alexandro Bernabei’s so-called handball from a close-range Steven Fletcher header was worthy of a penalty-kick and a booking for the Celtic defender in his team’s 4-2 win over Dundee United yesterday.
IS IT OR ISN’T IT? Referee David Dickinson reckons Celtic failed the screen test and awarded Dundee United a controversial penalty-kick.
The incident ocurred in the ninth minute – shortly after Sead Haksabanovic had put the hosts ahead – and it is worth noting that not one player from the visitors claimed for a spot-kick. Not one.
However, technical assistant Nick Walsh, who introduced pandemonium and chaos to Tynecastle a fortnight ago when VAR was utilised for the first time in a Celtic game, instructed referee David Dickinson to review the non-incident on the touchline monitor.
Perplexingly, the whistler returned to the field, awarded a preposterous penalty-kick, flashed a yellow card at the bemused Argentinian left-back and a grateful Fletcher thumped the equaliser past Joe Hart, facing his third spot-kick in two games, all, coincidentally, awarded for handball.
CQN will not dwell on other flashpoints such as the studs-up challenge from Craig Sibbald that flattened Giorgos Giakoumakis or the unfathomable delay before the champions’ second goal was allowed to stand. All goals are checked by VAR, we understand that, but why the hold up in this instance? What possibly could have been up for debate with Haksabanovic’s low shot that went in off the post?
And we have to ask why Bernabei was booked. Was it for deliberate handball? If this is the case, he should immediately change his position and become a goalkeeper. If he can stop shots while his back is to the ball then he is clearly wasting his talents as an outfield player.
TENSION ON THE TOUCHLINE…Ange Postecoglou awaits the inevitable VAR decision.
However, let’s look at the ball-to-elbow occurrence and, in particular, those sitting in judgement in the Sportscene studios in Glasgow.
Steven Thompson, the former Rangers, Dundee United and Scotland striker, hosted the programme that went out on BBC Scotland at 7.30pm last night.
He said: “I think it’s a penalty. I know he can’t do anything and he can’t see it, but does it need to be deliberate to be a handball? The header is going on target. Handball in the box – penalty.”
Stuart Kettlewell, who was sacked as manager of Ross County in December 2020 and was named as Development Officer of Motherwell last month, said: “It’s incredibly harsh, but I think it is [a penalty], I do.
“He doesn’t know anything about it, the ball comes in, I just feel his arm is outstretched from the body that’s what officials are looking at. You will see this type of thing being given as a penalty in Scotland in the coming weeks.
BEFUDDLED BERNABEI…the Celtic defender is a tad bewildered at the penalty-kick award and the booking.
“The ball is travelling towards goal, you don’t know if it is going to go in. A lot of people are talking about it being a natural position, I don’t feel it is when it’s that far behind his back. His arm is almost stretched straight out from his body.”
Marvin Bartley, current Livingston assistant coach to David Martindale, said: “I agree with Stuart. I don’t think he [Bernabei] knows much about it. It’s incredibly harsh, I just don’t think it’s a natural position for his arm to be in, regards to going for a header or not.
“The referee and VAR kind of make the right decision with that one. I would be highly frustrated if that was against Livingston.”
In their playing careers, Kettlewell turned out for Queen’s Park, Clyde, Ross County and Brora Rangers while Bartley’s best days were at Hibs under Neil Lennon, but he also played for Burnham, Hayes, Didcot Town, Hampton & Richmond Burough, Bournemouth, Burnley, Leyton Orient and Livingston.
And, of course, Thompson, Kettlewell and Bartley are welcome to their opinion.
BREAKING NEWS: Rumours are sweeping North Ayrshire that Wee Wullie Hughes, Millport Amateurs’ legendary kitman who once treated Rab ‘Mad Dog’ Maddock for an ingrowing toenail during the epic scoreless friendly against Rothesay at West Bay pitch during the Glasgow Fair in 1976, is on stand-by to give his views on Celtic’s visit to Motherwell in midweek. Wullie celebrated his 98th birthday last week.