Ange Postecoglou calls for Old Firm match to be free of big VAR delays

  • Celtic nine points ahead of Rangers heading into Monday’s game
  • ‘We don’t want to be watching someone with his hand to his ear’

The Celtic manager, Ange Postecoglou, has called on the match officials for the first Old Firm game of 2023 to ensure VAR delays do not disrupt the marquee fixture.

VAR’s arrival in the Scottish Premiership – it was first used at matches in October – has, perhaps unsurprisingly, proved controversial. Postecoglou was unperturbed about the introduction of the technology but, like umpteen managers, has since grown frustrated at the time taken to reach decisions. Monday’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox will bring with it intense focus on every refereeing decision.

“I certainly hope so,” said Postecoglou when asked whether his desire is for the match to flow smoothly. “I am sure the authorities and officials are well aware of the magnitude of the game and the eyes that will be on the game. The last thing that we all want is to be standing around and watching an individual with his hand to his ear for too long. That is not what people around the world are going to be wanting to watch. If mistakes are made in terms of decisions I think we can deal with that, but ultimately what we want to see is a good game of football.”

Celtic cross the city in fine spirits thanks to a 12-game winning Premiership run. Postecoglou’s team are nine points and 20 goals ahead of Rangers. Should Celtic avoid defeat it would be difficult to contemplate anything other than their retention of the title. This, then, feels like the ideal chance for Kyogo Furuhashi, Celtic’s Japanese forward, to break his scoring duck in Old Firm matches. Postecoglou bridles at any suggestion Kyogo, who has 15 goals this season, has let his standards slip, but the fact remains supporters are awaiting his impact against Rangers.

“All I know is that from the moment he arrived the guy has just been scoring goals and causing headaches to opposition teams,” Postecoglou said. “I don’t get this ‘lean spell’ stuff. Maybe he set the bar high when he first started, but there hasn’t been any time when I have felt that he has been struggling with form or confidence or impact because his impact goes beyond just the goals that he scores. But if you are just measuring it on goals? I would love to see his goals per minute ratio and see who matches up to it.

Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou
Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou has called on officials to speed up the VAR process. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/EPA

“He dislocated his shoulder early on in the last game we played against them. He missed a few games against them with injury. But it’s irrelevant to him. He will want to make an impact in every game that he plays and that is what he will be looking to do. I don’t think he needs to prove himself, internally anyway. If there are people outside who have still got question marks about him then that is for other people. But internally we know what he can do and what he contributes in every game. I am sure he is looking forward to it. He loves playing in the big games. He won a cup final for us last season so there is no doubt he loves the big stage and can deliver.”

This will be Michael Beale’s first Old Firm derby as Rangers manager. The hosts have won four out of four games under the former QPR manager but have largely failed to convince, by Beale’s own admission. He has also insisted Rangers will not alter their approach against a rampant Celtic team. Postecoglou will not deviate from his standard plan either.

“It’s a big game, we’re in good form and we want to continue that good form,” said Postecoglou. “We want to play well. Why should whatever points difference there is on the table make a difference to us? It didn’t make a difference to us last year when we were behind, I can tell you that. So it’s definitely not going to make a difference to us now. If you start dictating how you are going to prepare for a game depending on where you are in terms of the table and what your form is you kind of miss the opportunity to prepare for what is in front of you. It doesn’t matter.”

Celtic have led tributes to their former striker Frank McGarvey, who died on New Year’s Day aged 66 after a battle with cancer. McGarvey, a Scotland international, scored more than 100 goals in a five year stay at Celtic Park in the 1980’s.


Ewan Murray

The GuardianTramp

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