Neil Lennon has warned referees that his side won’t turn a blind eye to honest mistakes next season.
As weak and ineffective as Tony Mowbray’s side was last season there is no doubt that the rub of the blue didn’t go Celtic’s way .
Time after time strange decisions, to quote Andreas Hinkel went against Celtic with opposition managers even commenting on their surprise about decisions.
Former Dundee United boss Craig Levein joked that Darren Dods was disappointed that he dropped a clear handball in an early season draw at Celtic with similar incidents happening throughout the season.
On the other side of the city Gus MacPherson, Billy Reid and Craig Brown all lost their cool after strange decisions went against their teams up against Rangers.
Celtic-Rangers games of course tend to decide the outcome of the title with Rangers taking seven points from three derby clashes before clinching the title.
Mowbray refused to comment directly about decisions after the games against Rangers and was on gardening leave by the time Celtic won the final clash of the season against Walter Smith’s champions.
“I think some of the decisions we had last season were abysmal,” Lennon told the Sunday newspapers.
“Particularly in the high-profile games – the Rangers games in particular. “The club were justified in making a point about it.”
The minute that blundering SFA President George Peat revealed that Celtic had privately questioned refereeing decisions the agenda was set with the focus turned on Celtic rather than the cause of Celtic’s questioning.
With many decisions to choose from the main honest mistakes took place in the first two derby matches, one of which forced Hugh Dallas to admit that Craig Thomson should have awarded Celtic a penalty at Ibrox.
In summary the following decisions went against Celtic in the first two derby matches.
1) Two very good penalty claims ignored at Ibrox involving Sean Maloney
2) Brutal attacks on Scott McDonald and Zheng Zhi by Davie Weir and Kyle Laffery going unpunished while Maloney and Mark Wilson were booked for simulation
3) A goal from Marco Fortune disallowed for a routine challenge on Allan McGregor
4) Kyle Lafferty only booked for an x-rated challenge of Andreas Hinkel.
Clearly coming from the manager Celtic’s reactions to those decisions was to turn the other cheek and get on with the game.
Under Lennon a more aggressive, confrontational approach will be taken to refereeing decisions.
Lennon explained: “I did it myself as a player, not to influence the ref but to let him know we weren’t happy. Any challenges that were a wee bit heavy, there were two or three of us around the player who did it.
“There was a togetherness and I want to see that again. I want to see them sticking up for each other.
“They did that in the last few games. That’s what teams are about – looking after each other on the pitch and having a good spirit off it.
“It’s important. It’s a basic thing in the game and it’s difficult because in the modern game you’ve got all these different coaches but we’ll try and develop the players and make sure there’s an affinity with the club.”
A new robust approach from the players together with a more direct approach to playing the game will be welcomed by most Celtic fans.
Playing to win in the SPL requires each player to win their own personal battles, to go the extra mile and let their opponents and officials know that they are there to win.
Putting those instructions into practise next season, rather than shying away, should make Celtic much more competitive.
The most successful Celtic teams have known how to mix it with opponents, with the technical area housing Lennon, Johan Mjallby and Alan Thompson next season should see an entirely different outlook to last season.
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