Hail, Cesar!

This morning’s news that Billy McNeill passed away has saddened many people across the footballing world. There are few bigger Celtic men than the man his team mates called “Cesar.”

By the time I came into this world, Billy had already retired from playing football, but his historical status was already woven into the fabric of Celtic Football Club. As club captain he won nine championships, seven Scottish Cups, six League Cups and of course became a Lisbon Lion by winning the European Cup.

With a career in management under way in 1977 with Clyde then Aberdeen, Billy found himself succeeding former manager, mentor and legend in his own right, Jock Stein, in 1978. Could there have been a better person to take over from Jock?

In a five-year spell as Celtic manager, he won three championships, one Scottish Cup and one League Cup. A breakdown with the club’s owners prompted Billy to move on and took up the reins at Manchester City.

He experienced highs and lows at City then toiled with a struggling Aston Villa before returning to Celtic for the club’s centenary season. In his second spell at the club he won one championship and two Scottish Cups in four seasons.

By this point, things were changing in the Scottish game and the mismanagement by Celtic’s owners was leading to the club’s demise. They weren’t just falling behind Rangers, they found themselves behind Aberdeen, Hearts and Dundee United.

Money was changing matters, particularly at Ibrox and Celtic were being run into the ground by the families who had been involved at the club for so many years. As a result of that, McNeill became one of many fall guys.

It didn’t change the supporters’ view of him though. As a right of passage you learn about the Celtic history and Billy was at the core of that history.

A player, a manager, a captain, a Lisbon Lion and an all round gentleman. He will be missed by everyone.

A club icon and legend. Forever in our hearts and minds.

Hail, Cesar!

Stevie Mac

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Easter Road Sunday

Craig Levein’s Hearts side capitulated at home to their Glasgow brethren yesterday in what was a one sided affair. The Scottish Cup Finalists had no answer to any of the Ibrox club’s goals until the game was dead and buried.

The 1-3 win for Steven Gerrard means Neil Lennon must wait until next week at the earliest to secure eight-in-a-row. Today at Easter Road is the first hurdle though.

Hibs go into this game in a rich vein of form under Neil Lennon’s successor, Paul Heckingbottom. Celtic beat Hibs 0-2 in the Scottish Cup in Lennon’s second game in charge, but ever since that cup exit Hibs have not lost a single match.

Celtic haven’t lost under Lennon either, but some of the displays by the team have lacked conviction, particularly in the second halves. There is plenty of incentive for Lennon going up against his old club.

Though with the style and tactics very much still in the Brendan Rodgers mould, it is up to the players to find their best form. As Neil has said they are still playing in a way he is not accustomed to, but for the players it has been the way these last three seasons.

This is match day one of the post-split fixtures. There are no easy games left.

Four points are required from the next two games for Celtic to clinch the title. Doing that could mean winning the title at Celtic Park next Saturday against Kilmarnock.

Injuries and absences are having an impact on the Celtic squad once again. Ryan Christie, Nir Bitton, Dedryck Boyata, Jack Hendry, Daniel Arzani and Leigh Griffiths are all on the sidelines, but Celtic are not short of talent.

We’ve seen Tom Rogic and Filip Benkovic return to the fold recently and they’ll need to be sharper for the run in of games.

Kieran Tierney could see some rest time as the team gets rotated. Many of us want to see more of Timo Weah and I’m not averse to Oliver Burke either.

This title is in our own hands and we have the players to win it. The players know it and they have to earn it starting today in Edinburgh.

There can be no complacency in these next six games. Another treble is on the horizon.

How much do you want it Bhoys?

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

The SFA’s competence is as questionable as McLeish’s appointment.

The SFA’s decision to sack Alex McLeish after 14 months in charge, means the search for new leadership is under way. However, it isn’t just the coaching team that needs looking at – it’s the whole circus act at Hampden.

The Scottish Football Association represents the national game. They also govern the sport and yet they have failed year on year for too many years.

Poor appointments rarely elude national teams or club football. The catastrophe that was Alex McLeish though should never have been sanctioned and those behind it should follow the two time Scotland manager.

I haven’t always disliked McLeish. As a player he forged a memorable partnership with Willie Miller for Aberdeen and Scotland and became one of the most stable pairings in Scottish football history.

McLeish’s managerial career saw a steady rise from player-manager at Motherwell where he achieved a second place league finish behind Rangers. The Lanarkshire club struggled after that and McLeish jumped ship to a struggling Hibs side.

They ended up being relegated but he won the First Division in his first attempt, bringing Hibs back up the the topflight. After a few decent seasons with Hibs, Rangers came calling.

McLeish enjoyed success in a four-and-a-half year stint at Ibrox. As we know, much of that came about as a result of the large scale tax fraud going on at the club, something which McLeish himself openly admitted in interview.

After leaving Rangers in 2006 and a brief spell out of the game, McLeish took the managerial reins of the Scottish national side. At the time, his stock was good and he was a choice even I as a Scotland fan was happy with, but it wasn’t long before he would walk away.

Less than a year after joining Scotland he was attracted by the bright lights of Birmingham City and Premiership football. Many Scotland fans felt betrayed by this with a feeling that Scotland were in a good vein of form.

McLeish’s departure tore that apart and Scotland limped on. Birmingham wasn’t a bad move for his career as it offered a huge challenge.

Whilst he failed to save them from relegation that season, he did bring the back up at the first time of asking by finishing runner up in the Championship the following season. City’s good form on return to the Premiership won him a new contract and in the season that followed even won the League Cup.

Once again though, Birmingham found themselves relegated and Mcleish walked away. He made the short journey to Aston Villa amid major controversy and thus began the decline of McLeish’s managerial career.

You could argue that the wheels of decline were already in motion when left Scotland whilst things were going well. If you don’t agree with that then it was definitely in decline following his ill fated move to Villa which ended with him being sacked after one season in charge.

Beyond that nothing good ever came of McLeish. His managerial career was on the rocks.

He lasted less than two months at Nottingham Forest, one season at Genk and less than three months at Egyptian club Zamalek. So why the SFA would choose to appointment someone for a second time who not only left them in the lurch more than ten years previous, but whose career was in free fall is beyond comprehension.

McLeish is not too old to manage, but he was not fit for this job second time around. I don’t know anyone who supports Scotland that thought this was a good move.

Now the SFA are left licking their wounds. With yet another campaign hanging in the balance who can you possibly recruit to save it?

The correct appointment last year might have prevented this predicament. Either a better candidate should have been recruited or Gordon Strachan should have stayed on.

Instead the SFA made a disastrous appointment. This campaign can only be saved by an outstanding candidate and I fear that ship has already sailed.

The continual failings of the SFA demand change. Everyone is accountable at this stage.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

That’s a few rumours put to bed then…

Yesterday, Marco Rose was finally announced as the man to take over at Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer, ending any rumours that he could join Celtic. Whilst many will be disappointed at this rumour being killed, there was no evidence to suggest that he was interested or even on Celtic’s radar.

The German coach would have been a great fit for Celtic, particularly in Europe. One issue is that it could have been viewed as a sideways move for Rose.

Salzburg and Celtic have similarities in that they are both big clubs in weak leagues. So when it comes to playing in European competition, they each have to punch above their weight.

However, despite being a selling club, Salzburg benefit hugely from the Red Bull ownership and association with the franchise. That involves income from many areas as well as player movement between themselves and RB Leipzig, New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Brasil, Red Bull Ghana and even FC Liefering.

There are obvious benefits here and many have questioned the ethics of it. To date these associations have managed to circumvent any rules.

What stands out for Salzburg though are the efforts of Marco Rose. There’s no doubt he is a very good coach.

I’m surprised he wasn’t earmarked for the Leipzig job. He beat them home and away in the group stages of the Europa League this season, proving he did better with fewer resources.

In general, Marco Rose has had notable success in Europe. Salzburg made the semi-final of the Europa League last season and the last 16 this season.

There’s no doubt that this would have been beneficial for Celtic and their budget. When you look at the transfer activity at Salzburg, they did not spend a great deal of money despite making a decent profit.

In Rose’s first season, spending came to just over £2M whilst players sales amounted to just over £15M. In the current season, his second, outgoings amounted to just over £11M with players sales at over £50M.

So unlike an “underdog” such as Ajax, who have spent a lot of money and are receiving wide praise this season, Salzburg have not. In the transfer market, Ajax have spent over £100M in the last three seasons whilst generating over £160M during the same period and that will continue next season when they sell two players for a combined total of over £75M.

The four-time European Champions are getting back to the days when they were the benchmark for generating talent, but they are without a trophy since 2014. Their transfer market activity is beginning to pay off in European football but they need trophies too.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Celtic were on an even keel as them on the park. I dread to think what they’d do to a Celtic team right now.

However well Celtic do in the business world, it just goes to show how far off the pace we are in the transfer market. Celtic have done pretty well from the odd standout player sale in recent years and it is a revenue stream for the club, but scouting has been a let down recently.

This is an area Celtic need to improve on and soon. Our youth set up isn’t too bad and we are seeing talent coming through from time-to-time, but we need to be just as good when drafting in talent from other sources.

There needs to be a balance in business on and off the pitch. When one area of the club suffers, so too does the other and we end up reeling things in.

Celtic have spent around £32M in the last three seasons on players. They’ve made the same amount in player sales.

There isn’t any profit there unless we are making progress in Europe or selling the crown jewels, but certainly not in the amounts that Ajax are dealing with. To do so the club need to ensure that the wheels within the club are well oiled.

From the youth teams, to the scouting network and the transfer market comings and goings. Season tickets, TV revenue, retail and progress in Europe.

That is why Celtic need to appoint the right people. Not just to be better than their closest domestic rival.

We need to be building for the future. Greater work must be done and within the climate we operate.

It is not impossible to make inroads in Europe, as other teams have shown, but we must improve our infrastructure. No quick fixes or cheap moves.

Rose coming to Celtic could have been great for us, but a move to a bigger league was probably going to be of more interest to him, especially back in his native land. And given the progress he made in European competition, Celtic would have had a battle on their hands to get him, if there was ever any truth to it in the first place.

I don’t think it is fair to say Celtic haven’t moved quickly enough, because the truth is, we don’t know who is on their candidate list and what groundwork they have done already. We’ve been critical of the board in the past and been proven correct at times, but when they brought in Brendan Rodgers, we were all stunned.

Neil Lennon is probably going to be the man to get the job unless the board have an ace up their sleeve. There is no evidence to suggest Rose was one of those aces or any of the other bookies favourites for that matter.

Today, Roberto Martinez’s agent killed any suggestion that the Belgium manager was even remotely interested. So that will generate further disappointment for some I am sure.

Similarly, Andre Villas-Boas agent made it clear his client would not be working in Scotland. He went on to say he would not be available for comment either.

We cannot rule out any candidate of course, but nobody knows who the candidates are other than what the bookies and the media speculate upon. Right now we need to back this management team to get us another treble.

The next hurdle is on Sunday at Hampden against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semifinal. By the time that match is over we will know if another piece of history is in our hands.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

These second half performances are killing me, but how much of it is actually down to Neil Lennon?

I’ll be the first to admit that in order for Celtic to maintain progress, Neil Lennon would not be my primary candidate for the permanent vacancy. However, should our supporters be apportioning blame to the interim manager with the way Celtic are playing right now?

Firstly, unless I’m reading things differently, Lennon has been very open about Celtic’s current style of play. He has continually commented on wanting to change things and more recently said:

“It’s a style of play that they are used to and it’s a different style of play from what I’ve been used to.”

“However, it works and you can’t change it overnight, anyway.”

Those quotes were in the aftermath of the 2-1 win over Rangers at Celtic Park. In his post match comments he also went on to share his thoughts during that game:

“If this ends up 1-1, I am going to be changing a lot of things. Or doing a lot more things my way.”

So if Lennon hasn’t changed anything, is it fair to criticise him for these performances? He’s the manager, no arguments there, but he’s said on several occasions about his desire to change things, not that he has.

We’re all in agreement that watching these dismal second halves are depressing and frustrating. These were also abundant under Brendan Rodgers.

If the matchday plan and training is the same, then I’d argue that this is not a Lennon Celtic team. We haven’t seen that yet.

He’s been tasked with seeing out the season with the team in its current form with the assistance of John Kennedy, who was first team coach under Brendan Rodgers and Damien Duff who has stepped up as well. I don’t believe Neil is meddling too much, merely steering the ship and being a figurehead for the team.

Many interim appointments are brought in to improve struggling teams. This team was not in that position, they just lost their leader of almost three years, so major surgery was not required.

Now they have a temporary leader who does not appear to have authorisation to change things. So all the routines are the same from training to tactics.

I’m not making a case for Neil Lennon, just the situation we are in. Because of that, I think fans need to lay off because he hasn’t altered the script and won’t get that opportunity until the summer, if he does get the full-time position.

John Kennedy has backed Neil’s arrival and his presence. He knows they both need to deliver, but it is equally clear that the game plan will not be changed before the season is out.

Despite our frustration, there is total logic in this approach. If Neil had come in and changed everything it could have had a detrimental effect on the team.

Some may argue that he is having a detrimental effect on things. There is no evidence of that though.

Changing a winning formula would not be wise at a stage in the season when you are on the cusp of another treble. You might even suggest it would be career suicide.

I’ve watched Celtic falter toward the finishing line in many a season. No matter the manager.

If Neil is telling us he intends to change things from how they are now, then that means nothing has changed. It is only the absence of Brendan Rodgers and Chris Davies that has changed.

This is another reason why I think Neil will get the job permanently. He will have outlined his ideas and plans and the board will be considering if that is the best way forward.

Would I like to see someone else get the job? I would certainly like to see someone who can perhaps improve our chances in Europe, yes.

Is Neil Lennon that person? I don’t feel that he is, but perhaps we’ll only find out when and if he gets another crack at it.

Can he deliver 10-in-a-row? Probably, but there’s the bigger picture to consider.

The odds keep shifting on other potential suitors, but Neil remains the bookies favourite. The latest to join the list with Roberto Martinez (still with Belgium), Rafa Benitez (out of contract with Newcastle in the summer) and Marco Rose (tipped to join Borussia Monchengladbach from Salzburg) is former Premier League manager, Andre Villas-Boas.

He is currently out of work having left Shanghai SIPG toward the end of 2017. I don’t think he would be a bad acquisition for Celtic to be honest.

The question for the Celtic board is what are the club’s aspirations? Domestic domination or European income?

You would assume both and they can have both so long as we aren’t just taking the easy route and opting to keep Rangers at arm’s length. That isn’t a challenge, merely an exercise.

Brendan Rodgers didn’t have the impact on Europe that we had hoped. He did boss matters in Scotland though.

I don’t know what the future holds for Celtic in this season or the next. You can probably bet it will involve Neil Lennon and John Kennedy though.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Punishment, pyrotechnics and pursuing eight-in-a-row…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celtic took another step towards eight-in-a-row with a win at St Mirren Park last night. The game was anything but a foregone conclusion though and not without incident either.

Despite getting three points in the bag, the post-match talking points were largely negative. Retrospective action on Scott Brown being one, whilst the other was the pyrotechnic thrown onto the park at the end populated by Celtic fans.

That’s not even taking into account the game of two halves performance. After a good first half, Celtic made heavy weather of the second.

The Bhoys opened the scoring in the 15th minute, but they could have scored earlier. Timo Weah had a shot blocked on eight minutes, but an excellent chance fell to Kristoffer Ajer who should have finished when he found himself in the opposition box, only to shoot over the bar.

Celtic maintained the pressure and got rewarded five minutes later though. The ball switched from the left flank along the edge of the box and out to James Forrest on the right.

The winger played in Mikael Lustig who had his close range shot blocked. The Swede then chipped the resultant loose ball toward Timo Weah who nodded in off the bar.

St Mirren protested that it hadn’t crossed the line, but the referee was in a good position and had no hesitation in giving the goal. Goal line technology is not available, but it looked pretty much over the line to me.

Celtic continued to barrage the St Mirren goal and on 29 minutes the home side conceded a penalty. Jim Kellerman’s handball was conclusive, but Olivier Ntcham’s spot kick was not.

Vaclav Hladky made a good stop from a unconvicing kick and his defender closed down the rebound. And so the score remained 0-1 going in at half time.

The second half promised more of the same against the home side. Instead Celtic failed to keep up the momentum and the game became rather turgid.

This isn’t anything new in recent times by Celtic and certainly not all down to Neil Lennon either. In fact, the interim manager has been vocal about changing the team’s style of play as he doesn’t understand it.

Depsite fan criticism of the way the team have performed of late, Lennon seems to infer that he hasn’t changed anything from Brendan Rodgers set up. The players have even illustrated that nothing has really changed.

To me that makes sense, given that Celtic had momentum and Neil is merely helping keep things running along until such times that a permanent manager is in place. Albeit that is probably going to be Lennon himself.

So I don’t think it is entirely fair to apportion blame to Neil if he hasn’t changed the way things are yet. He’s just keeping the wheels turning for now.

As the second half wore on, the one incident that got magnified later on was an alleged stamp by Scott Brown on Jim Kellerman. The Celtic captain was judged to have committed what looked like a weak foul which was given but it didn’t end there.

In an attempt to get the ball, the St Mirren player went over his leg. Upon going to ground, he got under the feet of Brown who, when trying to step over him, stood on Kellerman’s chest.

There’s no doubt that his foot ended up where it did, but to say it was deliberate is debatable. I’ve watched it over and over and I don’t see any evidence of malice.

When you’ve got a player under your feet like that and your still moving forward, it’s very difficult to know what to do with your feet. I’ve been in that position before and you can either fall over the player or try to put your feet out to prevent that form happening.

I’d argue that Broony has been caught in two minds. However, given the emotions of Sunday’s game at Celtic Park people have been gunning for Scott Brown.

Punishment for “antagonising” opponents is on the lips of many. So it is no surprise that the response was that he should receive retrospective action after last night’s incident.

Even if a case is put forward, I think the evidence is far from conclusive that is was deliberate. Nobody is arguing that he stood on him, because he clearly did.

I’ve watched it so many times though and haven’t moved any further toward a deliberate stamp. That’s made my mind up.

In fact the only second half incident that did concern me was the pyrotechnic antics of our travelling support. After substitute Ryan Christie sealed the win in the 85th minute, a fan in the away end hurled a firework of some sort onto the pitch near the byline of the St Mirren goal.

Vaclav Hladky and the celebrating Celtic players appeared to be relatively equidistant from the audible explosion, but the St Mirren keeper was side on to the noise and appeared to suffer. Thankfully, there didn’t appear to be any lasting effect to Hladky, but the irresponsibility and thoughtlessness by the culprit is downright disgraceful.

These mindless muppets in our support should be identified and hung out to dry. We don’t need their sort plaguing our fan base.

How can we fight the fight for fair play when these imbeciles constantly let us down? You’re not welcome in the Celtic family home or away.

I’d challenge anyone who thinks there is a place in football for this behaviour. It’s time to start naming and shaming these wee fuds.

Until one of these pyrotechnics explodes in their own hands or worse still, causes serious harm to someone innocent, I fear nothing will be done. And before anyone in our support starts whining about being mistreated by the authorities, consider calling out these guys in close proximity to you that are certain to ruin it for the entire Celtic community.

We don’t need your kind. You aren’t Celtic fans.

It was a down beat way to end the match and could have turned out a lot worse. I’m sure we can expect some sort of punishment for it.

The result was good for Celtic and another step toward the title. Two more wins will secure the league unless Rangers falter before then.

Their win last night meant a second place finish is looking more secure, especially as Kilmarnock were held to a draw at Easter Road. Aberdeen won at Pittodrie and are now level with the Ayrshire club.

The gap between second and joint third stands at 8 points. That will feel a little more comfortable for the Ibrox club.

As a result of last nights scores, the top six are now confirmed as Celtic, Rangers, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs as expected. St Johnstone, Motherwell, Livingston, Hamilton, St Mirren and Dundee make up the bottom six.

Whilst we wait on the post-split fixture list, the SFA are busy dishing out punishment. We’ve now heard that Steven Gerrard and Scott Brown, as well as their clubs, have all been charged by the SFA following Sunday’s game.

Gerrard has been offered a one game ban for challenging Bobby Madden’s performance at the end of the match and Scott Brown has been charged with not acting in the games best interests. I fully expect Brown and the club to contest any punishment, though they may just serve him with a warning whilst Gerrard may have to take that one on the chin.

I also think both clubs will accept whatever punishment is served for the after match scenes at Celtic Park. Wherever the blame lies, the scenes were ugly and for the SFA they are seen to be evening the scores.

Meanwhile, Rangers are set to appeal Ryan Kent’s punishment stating that he didn’t make any contact with Scott Brown despite throwing a fist in his face. Well, I guess that’s okay then isn’t it?

Honestly, the level of bull emanating from the mouths at Ibrox is staggering. I guess that’s Scott Brown’s fault too, right?

It’s been an ugly few weeks. The success at Celtic Park is obviously beginning to ruffle too many feathers.

We’re on the cusp of an eighth title. What are nine, ten and so on going to be like?

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Here’s to you, Broony…

The dust is still settling after a thriller of a Glasgow derby on Sunday. These games, be it against the 1872 club or the current 2012 incarnation, have varied over the years and yesterday’s was one of the most explosive to date.

This was Neil Lennon’s first Glasgow derby in seven years and despite an early flurry from the visitors, it all looked to be going the host’s way. There was plenty of service to the attackers and in the 27th minute Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring for the home side.

James Forrest flicked through a loose pass midway inside the Celtic half and found Edouard on the run. He evaded his marker’s attempts and recovered from a brief stumble to rush towards goal.

Another challenger stood off him as he honed in on Allan McGregor. Upon doing so he found an opening and belted a shot past defender and keeper to make it 1-0.

Just four minutes later, the first key flash point of the game occurred. With play moving toward the away goal once more, Scott Brown came into contact behind Alfredo Morelos which resulted in the Colombian throwing an elbow directly into the Celtic captain’s face.

Both players demonstrated their trademarks. Broony was letting him know he was there and Morelos did what he does best and lashed out.

It was his fifth red card of the season and that’s just the ones that he’s been punished for. There have been plenty more occurrences that could have and should have been dealt with more severely.

To a greater extent, it was the catalyst for what turned out to be a feisty match. The player may have let his own manager, team mates and supporters down, but it also precipitated proceedings into an outright feud.

Celtic were relentless in the first half, but they were too tame in the second. They didn’t look as convincing in the hunt for the killer goal and Rangers took the incentive.

In the 63rd minute, Ryan Kent found himself in space and in receipt of pass from out wide. Mikael Lustig and Dedryck Boyata both bungled any attempt at halting the on loan winger and gifted him the time and space to score.

To be fair to Kent, he remained cool and composed to finish well, but Boyata and Lustig should have done much better. Scott Bain was unlucky that his touch wasn’t enough to steer it around the post and if he had, it would have been a major let off for his defenders.

Having used all their substitutes by the 73rd minute, Celtic found themselves down to ten men when Boyata went off the field a minute later with an injury. The playing field was level on score and personnel for the first time since Edouard had opened the scoring.

Who would take the impetus from here was anyone’s guess. Rangers threw on Glen Kamara and then Jermaine Defoe sensing that there could be a winner…..and there was.

A underweighted pass by captain James Tavernier allowed Callum McGregor to pounce and play in Edouard just outside the Rangers penalty box. His neat and unselfish play found James Forrest in space and the winger duly slotted home a calm finish to make it 2-1 in the 86th minute.

The game was not done yet though. In the aftermath of Celtic’s second goal, an off the ball incident between Brown and Kent resulted in the Liverpool loanee throwing a hand or fist toward the Celtic captain.

For the second time in the game, Broony found himself on the deck. The game hadn’t even restarted and the rage within the Rangers team was growing.

Bobby Madden did not take any action. He spoke with his official, but no cards were shown.

Once the game restarted, Kent actually had a chance to score. Bain spilled the attempt and Joe Worrall had a chance to equalise, but Kristofer Ajer was Mjallby-like in blocking him and the ball went out for a corner.

The closing stages of the game finished with further flurries, but no more goals came about. Celtic had won the battle to go 13 points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Had Ryan Kent (or Joe Worrall) scored that half chance, the question many would have been debating would have been, why was Kent still on the park? It is without argument that Kent commited a red card offence and there is conclusive evidence of that from more angles than I care to mention.

What remains is for the SFA Compliance Officer to handle matters. Normally, I don’t hold out much hope in these retrospective dealings, but this cannot be defended.

It isn’t a question of will he or won’t he face disciplinary action. More of how much?

Then things turned even more sour, post match. After the final whistle, Andy Halliday received a second yellow card for going after Scott Brown.

Broony had been celebrating in close view of the away support which Halliday took an instant disliking to. That caused a multiplayer brawl, Lustig having his shirt torn and a lot of Celtic players smiling in the face of their enemy.

Steven Gerrard made an awful lot of Brown’s so-called provocative behaviour. He even defended his players’ actions throughout the game, with the exception of Morelos, who he castigated in his post match interview.

If Gerrard found Broony’s behaviour to be provocative, what does he make of Ryan Kent’s? There may have been some baiting going on throughout the match, but it works both ways, as I am sure Scott Brown will testify to after Celtic’s 1-0 defeat at Ibrox in December.

He didn’t walk off the park in that game at the end of 2018 without a fair amount of abuse and taunting aimed directly at him. There was no reaction by the Celtic captain or commendation for keeping his cool.

I wonder if Stevie G wants to talk about that? Probably not.

Rangers revelled in that victory and since then we’ve had to listen to unbearable levels of nonsense from Ibrox to the newsrooms that Celtic were now under siege. The fact is Celtic are still the powerhouse of Scottish football and will continue to be for some time.

The league is all but wrapped up. There are seven games remaining and Celtic only need to win three of them to ensure the title.

However, Rangers will undoubtedly drop more points before the season is out. They will be without Morelos for four games and Halliday for one following today’s ban announcements.

On Tuesday we should find out more about Ryan Kent’s situation. The Compliance Officer will make an announcement before the deadline as to what is to occur.

Hopefully I can now look forward to Celtic picking up some points in the next couple of games against St Mirren (Wednesday) and Livingston (Saturday) before they face Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden (the following Sunday). We’ll know more about the post-split fixtures soon and who they benefit best and with any luck Celtic can snatch the league with their first post-split game if not before.

The top six is looking likely to include those who are currently in it. The order may look different as the remaining games are played, but so far it is looking like it will consist of Celtic, Rangers, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian.

It will be interesting to see if Steve Clarke’s side can catch Rangers. They’ve moved up into third following Aberdeen’s defeat at Tynecastle and the Ayrshire side’s home win over Hamilton meaning they are just 4 points behind.

Rangers are at home to Hearts midweek and away to Motherwell on Sunday. Killie are away to Hibs on Wednesday and home to St Johnstone on Saturday.

After that the top six will all be slugging it out against one another. With such narrow margins between 2nd to 6th place this could be a very interesting finish to the season for those teams concerned.

For now though, I’m just going to sit back and dine on those special moments from Sunday’s game. Here’s to you, Broony.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

The violence that took place away from Celtic Park is another dark day for the game in Scotland. It is evident that as well as the sectarian baloney that fill people’s heads, some feel they have to go even further by engaging in fighting and stabbing in the streets.

Scotland has a serious problem and whilst football matches such as these are the catalyst for a minority causing harm to one another, the issue lies solely with them. If people are already carrying a knife or willing to go looking for trouble then I’d argue it is already implanted in their heads.

Win, lose or draw it seems some are ready for trouble before a match has even begun. I don’t know how you are supposed to combat that?