The Ibrox Channel Is A Rangers Podcast
Bringing you a flavour of a fan chat about Rangers FC after each match.

Old Firm, Same Old Story

It’s been a great December, hasn’t it? Philipe Clement did the unthinkable and we won out in Spain against a decent Real Betis side, not just to finish top of our Europa League group and go straight into the last 16. We also knocked out Isco and Co. into the Europa Conference League. We also managed to sweep aside Aberdeen (finally!) and lift the League Cup. A trophy that has eluded us since Ross McCausland was a wean. 

The fixtures came thick and fast. This looked like it would be the making or breaking of this injury-stricken teams season. 

Roll on the 30th of December. Still turkey and mince pies aplenty. My belly was full, however, I still had a hunger. A different one. We travelled over to Parkhead in good spirits and fairly rested due to the Masons conjuring up snow to prevent Ross County from travelling down to Glasgow. Cheers guys. 

We faced a The Other Mob™️ side who were far from their ‘usual’ selves. 2 defeats on the bounce in December. 1 at Kilmarnock yet again this season, and a fantastic win for Hearts at Parkhead, where they went 2-0 up fairly early on and controlled the game. 

Safe to say the fans, who were already unsure about the 2nd coming of Brendan Rodgers, were ready to dust off the sharks again and riot. The Green Brigade has also been banned and had their tickets revoked. That made for an eerie atmosphere for games over November and December. Their board, who banned them

for “increasingly serious escalation in unacceptable behaviours and non-compliance with applicable regulations” then soon realised that Parkhead had become a morgue, it was having an effect on the atmosphere. Combine that with the poor results and you have a recipe for disaster. The proudly conservative supporting board had to find a resolution to bring the 250 fans back into the ground. Even if it had meant them backing down a bit as they needed them back in place for the visit of Rangers.

Going into this one they were without Cameron Carter-Vickers, who has had an average season, however, there is a noticeable difference when he isn’t there. 

We were greeted with an inevitable team sheet containing a makeshift defence. Lovely stuff. This of course is what you want to see if you want to head over to Mordor and are looking for a result. This of course is what greeted us at Ibrox earlier in the season, in a game we should have won barring a mix of being too defensive and VAR being not very Masonic. 

Now we had injury worries of our own, Lundstrum, who had recently regained his tag of ‘The Best On Earth’ was touch and go for this game as was Connor Goldson. 2 huge players to miss, which would have made our bench very thin on the ground. Much thinner than it already was. 

The team sheet came out to allay our fears. Lunny and Goldson were starting! Excellent. As strong as could be despite our injury 11 being a very decent side. 

Would we be able to win at Parkhead for the first time since Goldson’s double back in 2020?

It certainly looked like it could be a possibility. 

The game started with the ball in our court so to speak. Some nice passing and we seemed to control the early embers of the match. Not something we are used to at their place. 

McCausland was hungry and was taking people on. Skipping past and trying to force the ball into the area. Cantwell also started well. We were pressing high. Not much to shout about though. The Other Mob™️ seemed to be lacking their intensity. That was until their formerly Staunch captain, Callum McGregor, took the game by the scruff of the neck and essentially neutralized any threat that Cantwell had. Granted they still lacked their usual intensity. 

Dessers seemed isolated as did Sima at times too. The midfield battle was starting to be lost. Lundstrum, looked well off the pace. Probably due to only just being fit to play. 

The inevitable happened. As it does in these games. Corner in from Palma (which some reckon went out of play, I’m not so sure, angles and perspective can make some things look different), meets the head of Sima at the near post, Sima ‘clears’ it into the 18-yard box right to the unmarked Bernardo. Nice assist. Not what you want to be doing in an Old Firm game. 

Still, plenty of time left to kick into gear and press. 

Now sadly, we didn’t create too much, however, we kicked into gear in the last 10 minutes of the half. 42 minutes on the clock and John Lundstrum whips a cross into the box. Alistair Johnston and Sima, both vie for the ball and the ball appears to go out of play for a goal kick, which Nick Walsh duly awarded. That was around 41 minutes and 43 seconds into the game according to Sky Sports on screen clock. However, there’s a brief stop in play for VAR to check for a possible handball. Didn’t think much of it at the time, however, the initial replay showed the ball bounce off the floor and Johnston’s arm goes to the ball and hit it out of play. The next angle, from behind the goal, shows what unfolded clear as day. Johnston’s hand goes to the ball and he ‘slaps’ it out of play. PENALTY! Ian Crocker on Sky’s commentary, mentions that Kenny Miller was the last Rangers player to take a penalty at Parkhead. That was awarded back in 2010. 13 whole years ago. Masons eh? Now despite the incident being the clearest penalty you will see all day, Nick Walsh confirms the check is over and his original decision stands. Goal kick to The Other Mob™️. What? Now I’m not blaming Walsh here. During the incident he is behind the 2 players, so visibility of the incident would be poor. However, that’s what VAR is for. To make right what the referee has got wrong or missed. This was Definitely missed.  

Alistair Johnston staring at the ball as his outstretched arm forces the ball behind. He’s literally looking at the ball.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now we all know that there was an offside in the build-up. That’s clear, however, that was missed by the linesman and wasn’t checked by VAR. Now this is the important bit. APP (Attacking Phase of Play) wasn’t checked by VAR for the build-up to the incident, as the official on VAR that day, Willie Collum, DIDN’T deem the offence to be a handball and didn’t deem the incident to be a clear and obvious error from Nick Walsh. Now, I know handballs in the box can be subjective, you have to consider if there’s a deflection onto the hand, ball to hand, hand within the silhouette of the player, player protecting his face (like Goldson did a whole year ago) etc. Now none of that seems to come into play here. Johnston’s outstretched arm slaps the ball away. It’s pretty simple. Collum appeared to come to this ‘play on’ decision very quickly. Not often you see that in any game of football. 57 seconds from the incident to Nick Walsh blowing the whistle to continue play. His mind was made up very quickly within that time. This begs the question, was Collum presented with the best angle to review at Clydesdale House? Either way, he clearly had a quick look and made up his mind. Worryingly.

Now, we all know that the ball from Lundstrum to Sima, was offside. A penalty wouldn’t have been awarded after APP anyway. However, that’s not the issue. If there’s no offside, Willie Collum STILL would have thought that the handball wasn’t worth a penalty, or even worth Nick Walsh reviewing. That’s what’s staggering. 

We all know what it’s like in the Glasgow goldfish bowl. Everything is scrutinised to the finest detail. Especially when the big 2 play each other. With all that hindsight, why didn’t they just take a bit of time and properly review the situation, I know Collum made his mind up very quickly, however, wouldn’t it be worthwhile letting Nick Walsh review it and for him to make his mind up? There must have been a part of Collum that could see it was a handball? He’s awarded handballs in the past for less? 

The penalty debate went well into halftime and was the only real talking point bar the goal and Cyril Dessers unbelievable one-on-one mess up, where he’s bearing down on goal, takes 6 touches too many, Johnston’s right behind him and he somehow crumples to the floor, not even getting a shot away…. Yeah, the less said about that the better… Sky Sports were under the impression that Johnston’s handball wasn’t deemed to have been a penalty, which was a major talking point, understandably. And that was the case. It wasn’t deemed to have been a penalty. It’s madness. The pundits unanimously agreed it should have been given, even Neil Lennon, says it was clear… Sky wasn’t notified of any offside, or potential offside as there had been no discussion. Also nothing in the Clydesdale House VAR feed which the commentators are privy to. Offside wasn’t the issue. 

65 minutes or so in, much to the surprise of Ian Crocker and the co-coms team, an image with the official ‘VAR’ seal is presented showing an APP of the build-up to the handball. 

The ‘offside’ image that was presented to us all, by surprise, 66 minutes into the game. Note the official ‘VAR’ seal which insinuates an official check at the time. This was later added into Sky Sports official highlights of the match at the time of the handball incident.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Everyone watching with myself down at the Leighton Buzzard Loyal Rangers Supporters Club, were frankly perplexed. As was Ian Crocker, who made a sly dig at VAR for not informing them of the decision earlier, as it appeared as if this was the decision at the time, which we all now know, wasn’t. The plot thickens….

Now, why was VAR re-reviewing the situation well after the fact? Haven’t they got other things to focus on at that moment? Like the game? Ex-whistler Bobby Madden waded in. 

Madden stated that the ref team possibly weren’t responsible for releasing the offside image…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

A right Royal mess. Why would a still of an offside in the build-up be released if the decision was that it wasn’t handball? 

To stop all the criticism that Clancy and the VAR team were receiving for the decision to not award a clear penalty. That’s why. 

At this point, the Sky Sports team seemed to be believing that offside was the reason given for no penalty award. Which wasn’t making sense as a goal kick was awarded, not a free kick for offside. There was no review for offside at the time, all because Clancy didn’t want to give a penalty. That was the reason. Chaos ensued…

By this point in the game, we were already 2-0 down after a sluggish start to the 2nd half. Kyogo, scored a peach of a goal, something he does against us often. Goldson had stood him up and in my opinion, did the right thing and forced him onto his weaker foot, from an angle. Didn’t stop him from pulling off a top-drawer finish. Right into the top corner of the goal. Butland had no chance despite it coming from just outside the box. Granted Balogun was caught out of position and was appearing to be jogging back. Sometimes though you just have to accept that you have been beaten with sheer quality. 

Balogun – who was caught out of position during the Kyogo goal. Granted there are 4 at the back v 3 attackers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Balogun, then got himself sent off with a straight red card for hauling Maeda to the floor as he was played through one-on-one. Balogun, who is normally fairly reliable, hadn’t had the best game. This topped it off. Watching the attack back and I’ll be honest, despite Maeda’s pace, I think Butland is close, however, Maeda would likely have gotten there first and taken it around our keeper.

Butland v Maeda? Think these images show who would have got there first, however, we will never know.

                                       Not a good day at the office. 2-0 down, a defender down and 20+ minutes to go. It felt like it was going to be a long day. It felt like there were fine margins in the game, however this is what happens when you don’t take your chances at Parkhead.

However, we seemed to play better at this point. Is it because the pressure was off as the game was essentially done? Is it because now there was nothing to lose? Or is it Clément’s tactics and subs that made the change? Probably a bit of everything. 

Tav’s free-kick – 88 mins – of course it was going in. He’s so clinical from that range. Hart maybe could have done slightly better considering his positioning, however, take nothing away from the strike. Utterly sublime. Sadly too little, too late. However, there were around 9/10 minutes added on. Could we do something? Well, we certainly had the momentum. 

Late sub Kieran Dowell, raced into the box at a tight angle, Tavernier, completely unmarked at the back post, play a ball and it’s 2-2, nope. Dowell sees his name in lights and opts for the shot. Very difficult from that angle. Didn’t even get it on target. Very poor from someone who has been playing well since coming back from

Injury and is capable of a decent delivery/through ball. 

Rangers Review Editor, Joshua Barrie’s graphic, detailing what Dowell should have done with the ball, rather than firing it over the bar, in the dying moments of the game.

2-1. Final score. Not the result we were after, however, if we were told in November that we could go into January, 8 points behind, with 2 games in hand against Ross County and Hibs, to potentially bring the points deficit back to 2 behind, we would have all taken that, wouldn’t we?

A loss would have been more catastrophic for The Other Mob™️ than us as that could have opened up the gap to 5 ahead (if games in hand won). 

Now, Nick Walsh can’t be held responsible for missing the earlier handball. He wasn’t in a good enough position to see it, unless he was off the pitch, behind the goal. However, he did dish out yellow cards to several players of the green persuasion. 7 in fact, however one thing he didn’t do was give anyone a 2nd yellow, which was frustrating considering there were a few who should have received 2nd yellows like Johnston, who had been repeatedly fouling and smashed Sima in the face with his elbow. Granted it didn’t look as bad as Sterling’s forearm on O’Reilly, as he burst his nose open. However, Sima had to come off after this while clutching his nose. Granted Sima may have been coming off soon anyway as Clement opted for 2 substitutes at that moment. Bernardo also should have seen a 2nd yellow for his challenge on Goldson, when he was late into a challenge and his studs planted on Goldson’s leg. 

Now, back to the big talking point. The big thing we have been hearing is the VAR incident had ‘no bearing on the outcome game’. Yes, luckily. However, whether it’s offside or not, that didn’t change the fact that Collum wasn’t going to give it. If there’s no offside there,  the outcome is the same.. No Penalty when there should be. 

Understandably Rangers were frustrated and were seeking answers from the SFA, as to why Collum didn’t think it was a penalty, despite being such a blatant handball. Now, for the record, I don’t condone any abuse towards officials including referees. Whether verbal or physical. However, I can understand why a ‘witchhunt’ has ensued from the club and supporters towards Willie Collum. This isn’t purely based on what happened at Parkhead. It’s years of baffling decisions. I do question the competency of Collum, as with every 

 year that has gone on, he’s not improved. Now it’s not just Rangers he’s ‘wronged’. It’s a lot of other teams too. A quick search of social media will show you that. 

We all remember the Candeias/Ferdinand madness at St. Mirren. I have no idea what Collum saw or thought he saw, however it resulted in Candeias being sent off. What happened? Ferdinand came up to Candeias, put his arm around him,  put him in a ‘headlock’ and gave him a sly punch to the face. Granted this was pre-VAR, however was an utterly bizarre 2nd yellow and eventual red card for Candeias and not for Ferdinand, who struck an opponent in the face. 

Ferdinand with his arm around Candeias                               The SFA claimed that the reason Candeias was booked was because “he believed that the player had been involved in two incidents, making gestures towards the opponent, Ferdinand, after the scoring of a goal and becoming further involved with the opponent as he made his way upfield after celebrating the goal”.

Well, that 2nd part is strange. “becoming further involved with the opponent as he made his way upfield”. It was Ferdinand who followed Candeias upfield and Candeias didn’t do anything there. That we can physically see anyway. Now as for the ‘gesturing’? He did what any footballer does. Celebrate goals. 

Candeias – received his first booking from Willie Collum for doing this. Yep. Just that. I get there can be some volatile places, however it’s St. Mirren away…
Candeias celebrates at St. Mirren                                     Rangers, of course, appealed and the red card was upheld. According to The Scottish Daily Express – A tribunal found “on a balance of probabilities, that there had been no error on the part of the referee and no mistaken identity with regard to the players involved in the incidents and specifically in relation to the player for whom the claimant had appealed. Therefore the determination of the tribunal was that the claim be dismissed and that the caution and dismissal, and mandatory sanction, be reimposed”
Candeias – Celebrating Morelos’s 2nd goal. This allegedly is what he received the 2nd booking for. ‘Gesturing’, before “becoming further involved with the opponent (Ferdinand) as he made his way upfield”.
IMG_8528.jpeg
A perplexed Candeias wonders why he’s being sent off for being put in a headlock by Ferdinand and for receiving a smack in the face.

So the red card was upheld. What happened to Ferdinand after this incident? Sweet FA. That’s what. No retrospective action. Err ok.

Rangers understandably were frustrated that the red card was upheld, and that no action would be taken with Clancy. An official club statement stated: “Furthermore, it is understood that a number of people within the Scottish FA are in no doubt Mr Collum’s judgement was flawed and Rangers shall also now be submitting a formal complaint about the performance of this referee. The manner in which he reacted to an incident involving our player made it obvious he did not give due consideration to his decision. This is by no means the first time errors of judgement have been made in matches involving this official and clearly, there is an underlying issue which requires to be addressed.”

That complaint fell on deaf ears. Rangers do claim in that statement that ‘a number of people are in no doubt that Collum’s judgement was flawed’. Not the first time Rangers have met with representatives from the SFA who don’t agree with Collum, off the record of course…

Now, according to Rangers latest statement, in regards to The Old Firm, which was released via Heart & Hand’s Twitter/X page, a Rangers spokesperson said: “From the meeting, there was an overriding consensus the VAR decision of no handball was incorrect.”  Pretty damning once again. So most people, if not all, in that meeting, didn’t agree with Collum’s decision. Now, of course, The SFA, met with Rangers over their concerns, however, I’m sure they thought this info wouldn’t come out. The SFA retaliated with a statement. They however conflict and say  There was an overall consensus that the incident could not have led to a penalty kick being awarded in any event, and that there was no impact on the final outcome of the match”.

No direct mention that they agreed the handball was incorrect or disagreed. They talk about the bigger picture. Ie if APP had been checked, which it wasn’t. 

They go on to say “it was pointed out that the incident in question was a subjective handball and that the VAR did not deem it a sufficiently clear and obvious error to refer to On Field Review”. Again just stating what Collum felt at the time. Nothing more, nothing less despite how obvious the call should have been. They go on to say “Furthermore, the offside would not have been mentioned at the time as it was not part of the VAR’s decision-making on the handball. It was highlighted within Clydesdale House that had the VAR considered the incident to be a handball offence and asked the referee to carry out an On Field Review, the Attacking Phase of Play would have been checked and an offside would have been identified”.

So, “disnae matter anyway as it was offside”. Yeah, that’s the go-to. That’s not the point. They were lucky it was offside, otherwise the fallout would be on a grander scale than now. Also, can you imagine if the boot was on the other foot and this happened to The Other Mob™️? We’ve seen what they are like when things are fairly normal, they make movies about referees ‘cheating’ for Rangers, with their clubs OK to use the stadium etc, referee chat at AGMs, back page headlines reading ‘Refs are a deep

Concern’. They bleat about the Masons doing everything to ‘help’ Rangers. They openly don’t just criticise officials, they call them Masons and cheats. However lots of those who did, suddenly seem to think that “Collum made the correct decision” etc. New members of the referee’s fan club? 

Now, let’s be honest here, if the referees were indeed trying to ‘help us’ and ‘cheat’ then why do we have perfectly good goals chopped off in Old Firm games? Morelos last year for a ‘push’ on Johnston, before slamming the goal home. Such a poor decision that former FA official Dermott Gallagher, a supporter of the The Other Mob™️ and a panellist on Sky Sports ‘Ref Watch’, said Johnstone was ‘Very Lucky’ as he clearly hit the deck as soon as he knew he wasn’t meeting Barisic’s ball in.