08:59, 10 NOV 2019
As a manager I attempt to keep any grievances private.
If something has flared up and requires a response then my style would be to have a quiet word in someone’s ear the next time I see them.
But on this occasion I feel the need to make an exception.
It was the naivety in the comments about my club Livingston from Rangers manager Steven Gerrard that surprised me.
Ahead of our game against Rangers on Sunday, he called for ref Nick Walsh to ensure hisplayers were protected.
Protected from what? It’s the Tony Macaroni Arena they’re heading to – not Madison Square Garden.
There’s a bit of background to his concerns and, annoyingly, a bit of history being rewritten.
Back in our League Cup game in September, Ricki Lamie was mentioned for his part in an incident that left Rangers’ Joe Aribo requiring stitches to a head wound.
Gerrard claimed an elbow had been thrown and the incident would have resulted in a red card in any country in the world other than ours.
His remarks were relayed to me at the time.
There was also a suggestion that I hadn’t shown concern for Joe at the time – this was
The facts are that it wasn’t an elbow that was thrown.
It was Ricki’s shoulder that was involved in the collision and, as for Joe, we had a conversation after the game when I checked on his welfare.
As for his claims the collision merited a red card, again it’s a difference of opinion. I just didn’t agree with Gerrard on that. I kept my own counsel.
Gerrard claims medical teams were on the park four or five times in the first half. Again it’s something that I’d suggest needs fact checked.
And if you look at the match stats that night you’ll see Rangers committed 14 fouls, three more than my side.
But what concerns me is a remark that the Rangers boss has tied into the recent media focus on head injuries and the impact of concussion.
It’s not on to suggest that the way my players approach a game puts opponents in greater harm.
Football is a contact sport. Injuries are sustained – it’s an occupational hazard. Our game hasn’t introduced protocols for concussion and that’s a concern. I’d support whatever measures were deemed appropriate. But to suggest our club is one where head injuries are the norm is way offside.
I’d rather go pay Rangers the compliment of saying they have some superb players.
If you afford average players the freedom to get on the ball then you will lose more games than you will win. But if you allow class operators, of which Rangers have many, to play they’ll run all over the top you.
We can’t allow that to happen so we’ll develop a system and approach designed to cause them problems and make it uncomfortable. We must play to our strengths and I’ll make no apologies for that.
We must never be ashamed to do what we’re good at.
Anyone who thinks a club with Livi’s resources should be embarrassed at not
allowing the opposition to play or getting into their faces is kidding themselves.
When I first read Gerrard’s claim for protection it also triggered another thought.
Ahead of a game between Livi and a club the stature of Rangers, would someone such as Walter Smith have made similar comments?