Barry Robson said yesterday that his actions when replaced by Chinese international Zheng Zhi on Saturday were purely down to the frustration of being unable to break down a stubborn Motherwell side rather than anger at boss Tony Mowbray's decision to bring him off after seventy minutes. The dynamic midfielder would have loved to have stayed on the pitch for the full game but he acknowledges that the boss has to call it as he sees it. "I wanted to stay on against Motherwell." he said. "I want to play 90 minutes every game and last every training session. But it's a decision for the manager and if he thought he could improve the team or give me a rest if I was tiring then fine, that's perfect by me. "
"People can make out that me throwing the tracksuit top away was me being annoyed at the manager for taking me off. But I was frustrated at not winning, that's all." said Robson. "The crowd can vent their anger, but the bottom line is to look after the team. If the boss thought it was the right decision we should go by that. He's had a good management career and knows what he's talking about, so that's fine. For me it was all about winning the game and I said to Zheng Zhi when he came on 'Give us some magic to win it'. Every player in the team is focused on winning no matter who plays - we all stick together."
The frustration is perfectly understandable from a player who was making his first top team start for nine months following two operations to fix his groin injury. After missing so many important matches for the club he's champing at the bit to get involved once more and he's hoping he did enough during his seventy minutes on the field on Saturday to earn a starting slot against Hamburg in Thursday's Europa League tie at Celtic Park. "I've been back for five or six weeks." he said. "And had a few reserve games and was due to play against Rangers before I felt my hamstring in training two days before Ibrox. That's just the way it is when you are trying to get back to fitness after a spell out and keep picking up niggles. I played 10 minutes against Rapid Vienna and played on Saturday and now I want a few games under my belt. We know how good Hamburg are. Some people may be fooled, but they have Ze Roberto and other top internationals on big money. They will be good and are a Champions League outfit in all but name."
"We'd like to make it a good spectacle and I hope the fans turn out in good numbers and help us." said Celtic's number 19. "They are the 12th man and very special on nights like this. There's a global recession going on and crowds are down in most places. I don't think it's to do with anything else. Crowds are down most places. I watched Manchester United at the weekend and there were empty seats, same at Chelsea and Ibrox. "
" It's not just Celtic." said Robson. "Football is expensive with tickets, petrol money, food and drinks and if you take a couple of kids it's £100 plus to go to a match. You do want as many fans as is possible as they are brilliant on Euro nights. The Celtic fans support us through thick and thin, but it's unbelievable how much they help on a Euro night. We want to make sure we get as many points on the board as possible and show we can do well in the Europa League. I respect the fans' response as we didn't win the game on Saturday and we're expected to win. If Celtic teams of the past drew or lost games they'd be booed. You expect that."
"I don't think we're massively wrong at the moment." concluded Robbo. "We haven't been far short in big games. We played well at Ibrox and were unfortunate. Yes, there's been a couple of games when it's not gone for us, but we're working hard and I feel we're progressing. If all the units click we'll be fine. We're plugging away and hopefully it will all come good."