There’s been a lot of talk about the Lisbon Lions recently; you may have noticed. Go ask you dad about them, he’ll tell you they could take care of themselves. For all the pretty football, they still had to win the battles.
Consider also the team during Seville season. Thompson, Lennon, Sutton, Hartson, Mjallby and Valgaeren never failed to meet an opponent square on. They were all hard men. Don’t even ask about Bobo, he terrified opponents by the scale of his shadow, no opponent dared take him on.
All of those duties now fall to Scott Brown, he’s our hard man. It’s an important role and he doesn’t have much in the way of support.
You get the feeling there’s a notion that the rest of the guys can concentrate on being wonderful, in the knowledge that Scott will sort out the troublemakers. He was, of course, wrong yesterday, not for the first time, although red cards are not a regular occurrence.
Sky TV could not have hand-picked a better analyst of this situation than Barry Robson. Barry arrived at Celtic in January 2008, picked up the mantle of Sorter Outer in Chief, and stamped his authority on the league title. We all knew that, unlike a then often-rash Scott Brown, Barry could work within the lines and still get the job done.
But even the such a master of subtle intimidation can get it spectacularly wrong. Last year he lamped former Celtic team-mate, Scott McDonald, a minute after coming on as a substitute. If you want a hard man in your team, don’t go yelling about him when he acts like a hard man moments after being assaulted from behind.
The only surprise about the late penalty for Ross County’s Schalk’s outrageous dive and subsequent penalty was that it happened this weekend, not next. Set your watch for it, people, if you think the treble will be decided purely on meritocratic terms, you’ve not watched as much football as me.
Brendan’s about to find out the limits of his apparent powers in Scottish football.