Ibrox Report Card: 9 out of 11 for Celtic as the Jerseys are Sold.

Last updated : 05 October 2009 By Clydebuilt
There we have it then. The first loss for Tony Mowbray's side in the SPL was as frustrating as can be in a match that saw us dominate for 75 minutes and still end up on the losing side. Yes we can point to glaring 'errors' by Craig Thomson (more on him later) as part of the problem however we have no-one else to blame but ourselves for the manner in which we allowed Rangers to close the gap at the top of the title.

The best description I have heard of yesterday's match was that it was like a Celtic team of the 90's playing a Rangers team of the early 80's in a match that was being officiated by a Referee from the 70's. This was a match that frustrated from the first whistle to the last with many players in green and white showing all their schizophrenic footballing abilities in glorious technicolour.

Before I launch into a tirade regarding some of the performances yesterday I have to say a quick word to Scotland's number 1 Ref, Craig Thomson, who pushed both of Celtic's central defenders all the way to win the man of the match award.

This was inept refereeing of the lowest order! Three stonewall penalty claims were in evidence yesterday, however only one was awarded and the ref has to perform better in these occasions. I will be the first person to admit that getting these decisions correct in the heat of the moment cannot be easy, however if you are so sure that Shaun Maloney was not fouled for his first claim to the extent that you feel you have no option other than to book him for simulation then that compounds the notion that you are not up to the task. The booking aside this was all the more galling given that this incident happened in the exact same spot where Neil Lennon was refused a stonewall penalty a few seasons ago.

Young Shaun's second claim was equally as baffling. Maloney's quick feet took him past Old Father Time and contact was made and Shaun went down in a similar manner as he did previously. Did the ref really think that Weary had won the ball given the direction the ball took after the challenge? If so why was Shaun not given a second yellow?

Speaking of Old Father Time, what is it that this player has to do to get booked? I would be the first person to state that Weir is not a dirty player but you could count at least ten fouls that were awarded against the Rangers Captain yesterday! Is that not persistent fouling?

I for one cannot wait to hear the ref's comments on the game. When was the last time you saw a referee award a penalty to a team which had been booked for diving? Normally an incident of unsporting conduct is enough to put most refs off awarding spot kicks?

Further to that I wonder what will be the press reaction to the two penalty claims that were not given? Will they be described as "the penalty of penalties"?

And what will be the review panel's opinion of Kyle Lafferty's groin high challenge on Zhi? What is that you say? Don't be so naive this will not even be mentioned again? Ok sorry.

On a whole I thought that we were by far the better team in yesterdays match, with the excellent Landry N'Guemo pulling the strings Celtic were constantly taking the game to the opposition. Debutant Zheung Zhi had a great match and was constantly showing his new team mates how to hurt Rangers - keep the ball on the ground and play round them. Unfortunately his colleagues weren't paying attention.

Too often we would try and hit the byeline and put crosses into the box - crosses that were bread and butter for David Weir, the time we did get joy was when we were looking for runners cutting into the box from wide. Did we exploit this weakness enough? Well the answer to that question is in the scoreline.

What was most frustrating yesterday afternoon was that both sides of many players' football personalities were in full showing. Leaving aside the performances of Messers McManus and Loovens for a second lets concentrate on the forward players.

Scott McDonald is by far the most frustrating and annoying player ever to don the Hoops. Yes this little battler will give you 20+ goals a season but what else does he offer the team. You may cry that goals win matches etc etc but the amount of times we lost the ball in penetrating positions due to Skippy's latent inability to lay the ball off to a team-mate in a better position has seen me lose pretty much the final piece of patience I had left for this player.

I am seriously struggling to remember a time when McDonald made a goal for a team mate.

Aiden McGeady is another player who has me pulling my hair out at times. There is absolutely no point in going past a player and then turning back to turn him again when a team mate was in a great position the first time you went past your man!!! The lack of vision that this player has at times may be enough to see him join the list of other notable luminaries who had the potential but never the end product. I hope I am wrong but Aiden appears to be going backwards at the moment in terms of his influence in many a big match.

And then on to Glenn Loovens and Stephen McManus, who after yesterdays performance should be afforded a comedy soundtrack like the Muppet theme as their disastrous performances gifted Kenny Miller Rangers' two goals.

Big Mick is like a poor man's John Terry in that he is strong in the tackle and would run through brick walls for his team. Visions of him putting his head in where others would be reluctant to put their feet with blood running down his face are the positive side of his game. Unfortunately for us the negative sides were also fully evident.

And then we come to Glenn Loovens, a player who takes the words laid back to whole new levels. Whilst this can be a great attribute to have in a central defender the fact that his complacency allowed Kenny Miller two goals is nigh-on unforgivable and I for one hope that Tony Mowbray is as concerned as the faithful with the calamitous defending that was on show. Rumours have it that Gary Caldwell is only requesting a 15K a week contract. Based on the performances of his counterparts yesterday he will probably get offered twice that just to line up alongside McManus or Loovens, and Caldwell is not fully the answer either!

To end on a positive note, we are still top of the league and have the luxury of our next game being at home; let's see if Rangers can add an element of consistency to their luck!

Yours in Celtic