Amid the game-by-game controversies surrounding the introduction of VAR in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic have handled a number of controversies simply by making sure enough goals are scored at the other end to negate the worst that any VAR official can throw the Scottish champions.
There was also no respite in the Champions League last week when VAR decided to gift European champions Real Madrid a two-goal start via ridiculous penalties that came to fundamentally change the game.
In rugby you get more points for a try, but there is always the option of a drop-kick. Now in football there is no need to rely on finding the back of the net with shots or headers when you can target one of twenty arms and if you hit the jackpot you are now guaranteed a shot from the spot.
Regardless, that has been the constant rule in Celtic’s recent misfortunes with new technology, but it strangely didn’t apply when a Hearts player self-consciously threw his arm behind his back after the clearest hand to be seen throughout the season. This came a few minutes after VAR had taken almost ten minutes to decide that Hearts deserved a penalty, which they scored, but Celtic was waved off by the referee and ignored by VAR. How does it work?
Then this weekend, English readers will be delighted to learn that an Argentinian was finally punished for handball, except this time it wasn’t deserved. Two players, one on each side, jumping for a ball, both with one arm behind their back. The ball goes past both of them and a third player heads the ball into the arm of the defender who is facing the other way.
Celtic were twice in front and Dundee United pushed them twice with the second equalizing goal in the 88th minute. This goal was widely celebrated by Rangers supporters, judging from their social media activity, but the joy from Ibrox was short-lived as Celtic through Japanese striker Kyogo, strangely left out of Japan’s World Cup squad last week, and Liel Abada, the young Israeli goal machine, both scoring to win the points for the Celtic and extend the lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to seven points.
Things went from bad to worse for Rangers fans on Sunday lunchtime when they lost 2-0 to St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park in Perth and the first goal, from a guy named James Brown, was an absolute peach. It was an ‘I feel good’ moment for the young right-back and also for Celtic Support who cheered on the Saints through Sky coverage.
There is now intense pressure on Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who last week led the team to the most undesirable record: worst team ever in the Champions League group stage after six straight defeats and a negative goal difference in the twenties. That included the record 7-1 loss at home to Liverpool. Now it seems a question of when and not if the Dutchman is sacked.
There are two games each for both Glasgow clubs before the World Cup break. Celtic play at Motherwell in the middle of the week and then entertain Ross County at Celtic Park at the weekend.
Rangers meanwhile have to take on Hearts at Ibrox on Wednesday where the natives will be restless to say the least, then they will make the short trip up the M8 to take on St Mirren on their little ground in Paisley, close to Glasgow Airport. .
St Mirren have not been well on their travels in the Scottish Premiership this season, but at home it has been a different story as, among numerous successes, the start was St Mirren’s 2-0 win at home over Celtic. in September, the only points Ange Postecoglou scored. he winger has been down all season.
That is extremely difficult for the Rangers to finish. Anything short of a victory at St Mirren will mean that the departure lounge at the nearby airport will be van Bronckhorst’s next destination. If it comes to the weekend.