‘So Alarmed’ – Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas on desperate decision making at Ibrox | OneFootball

‘So Alarmed’ – Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas on desperate decision making at Ibrox

Logo: The Celtic Star

The Celtic Star

Former Celtic and Aberdeen striker Charlie Nicholas has used his Daily Express column to pour scorn on theRangers attempts to gain influence over refereeing decisions with the SFA and their recent eight-point letter of concern to Hampden bosses.

Instead, Nicholas believes theRangers’ hierarchy should have been looking for answers within the dressing room and the players who not only dropped two points at Pittodrie but also fell once more under the spell of their Nemesis Scott Brown.

Photo: Andrew Milligan

“When decisions don’t go your way, you need to be man enough and humble enough to accept them – even if you know they weren’t right. That’s why I was so alarmed last week that (the)Rangers submitted a complaint letter to the SFA questioning decisions made by referee Kevin Clancy during their 1-1 draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

“If I was theRangers manager, I would be more focused on my own players and asking why they got caught up in things, with Dons captain Scott Brown especially. Why did they take the bait and get involved in it? If I was looking to ask questions about why the defending champions dropped two points then my first stop would be to theRangers dressing room.

“Yes, Clancy had a poor game and got a lot of decisions wrong but it certainly wasn’t one-sided. Aberdeen should have been awarded a penalty when Ryan Hedges was caught by the leg of on-rushing Allan McGregor after the Aberdeen forward had knocked the ball past the Gers keeper when through on goal.

Kevin Clancy in action

“There are plenty of times when (the)Rangers get the benefit of the doubt but you never see them coming out to acknowledge such instances. Yet, they don’t hesitate to make their grievances public when they think they’ve been the victims of an injustice. It is an absolute joke. My first reaction to (the)Rangers contacting the SFA was that this is a club trying to exert their authority by throwing their weight around when things don’t go their way.

“The irony is that the club’s stance was in sharp contrast to that of Giovanni van Bronckhorst after the game. The Gers manager was very calm, accepted things and made it clear it was time to move on.Yet, within a couple of days the whole thing had blown up. It certainly doesn’t look van Bronckhorst was behind the complaint letter.

“I suspect the Dutchman brushed off most of the flashpoints as schoolboy stupidity. Seeing theRangers players getting caught up with Scott Brown’s antics was just nonsense. I know it shouldn’t have been a second yellow card for Ryan Kent but sometimes these decisions go for you and other times they don’t.You just have to accept them.

“Everybody and every club gets bad decisions.The referee was poor for both sides on the night and (the)Rangers have absolutely no case on this one. Their own players got hooked in by Brown and ended up failing miserably on the park. That’s all there is to report.”

Scott Brown very much played the role of the Puppet Master as theRangers dropped points at Pittodrie, however the recent behaviour exhibited the the Ibrox club is another sign theRangers are feeling the pressure in the title race. After all it’s not so much the glory on offer that theRangers require, it’s the excess of £35m available that could come with automatic group stage Champions League qualification.

As such Nicholas is quite right, any decision made to challenge the SFA is unlikely to have even been discussed with the manager as this was a desperate decision based on the pounds and pence required to keep the lights on at Ibrox.

The pressure is now beginning to show over at Ibrox and it was first highlighted when only the Ibrox club, and somewhat bizarrely Ross County, voted against bringing the winter shutdown forward. That decision was vindicated when full houses, rather than a mere 500 spectators, were able to return to football grounds following the resumption of the Scottish Premiership.

However theRangers were willing to forego the needs of supporters and instead saw an opportunity to play at Celtic Park and Pittodrie with few fans present, and considering the only title in their short existence occurred in a season of empty grounds you can understand why they made the decision they did, they are simply not confident of emerging from this title race as Champions when the pressure starts to mount on a squad their own captain admitted previously had a tendency to wilt under pressure – and there will be pressure mounting when the bears get twitchy at the top.

Having failed to pick up three points at Pittodrie, the next challenge they had hoped to undertake, to nigh on empty stadiums, comes on 2 February, with a full house at Celtic Park and no away fans present – another opportunist decision made that may now come back to haunt them.

theRangers were caught in a trap by Scott Brown’s superior gamesmanship skills last week, come 2 February they may be caught in another entirely of their own making.

Niall J

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