Thursday 23 February 2017

O'Dea refuses to get carried away amid Celtic storm

Roddy Forsyth

LIKE fallout from a nuclear reactor meltdown, the consequences of Scott Brown's dismissal in last Sunday's Old Firm game -- he was sent-off for violent play after pushing his head into Kyle Lafferty's chest -- and the rejection of the club's appeal against his red card continue to darken the skies over Celtic.

Tony Mowbray weighed in with the suggestion that referee Dougie McDonald -- who had veto rights over Celtic's appeal -- may have been influenced by a desire not to acknowledge a wrong inflicted on the Parkhead club after equally debatable decisions in the two previous Glasgow derbies this season.

Asked how he thought McDonald had come to his decision to reject the appeal "on the basis that the referee was content with his own judgment" the Celtic manager said: "The political landscape is the last two Old Firm games in which there were two big decisions didn't go our way."

Mowbray, though, again distanced himself from comments made on the club's website and its print mouthpiece, the 'Celtic View', which at times during the debate have been indistinguishable from the unmediated output of fanzine and internet message boards. The 'Celtic View' this week carries a full page bearing a picture of the Brown-Lafferty incident above the stark caption: "That's why we're paranoid."

Asked his attitude to such examples of playing to the gallery, Mowbray replied: "The club sometimes have, not a different view but a stronger view, than I might have. I don't want to get in to a conflict but I like to think I'm not a paranoid guy.

"I'd like to think I'm a balanced individual. I look at the reasons and at what went on. I look for fairness, basically. If I could think, 'I can half-see what the referee is thinking but I don't agree with it', then fine but having watched it I can't come to that conclusion.

"It's not about me moaning about it -- although it appears that I am; it's about getting to a system that works."

In notable contrast to the more flammable views being touted at the club was the opinion of Darren O'Dea, who is likely to wear the captain's armband for tomorrow's visit to Falkirk.

Invited to express his view of the prevailing opinion among the Celtic support that decisions are stacked against the club, the Irish defender replied: "We're obviously going to say that, aren't we?

"I could name three or four decisions that have gone against us this year, but I'm sure if you go over to Rangers they would tell you decisions that have gone against them -- so can any SPL team. Too many big games are being decided by bad decisions.

"The standard of refereeing isn't getting worse. TV is getting better. To be honest, I'm just sick of hearing about referees. It's a game of football.

"I don't believe for a second that referees go out to influence games for either teams but they are making mistakes -- and everyone's making mistakes, not just one referee and not just in Scotland. It's in England, in Spain, elsewhere.

He added: "There's no agenda there. They need help -- what, I don't know, but it needs to be addressed. When we're watching TV clips we watch them back four or five times but the referee has to make a split-second decision." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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