Ronny Deila believes he called it wrong when he assessed Dedryck Boyata’s dismissal at Hamilton on Friday night and now wants the SFA to rule that referee Craig Thomson did the same.
Celtic have lodged an appeal against Boyata’s red card, despite Deila’s initial belief his defender was guilty of a foul on Hamilton striker Carlton Morris which was deemed by Thomson to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Belgian international Boyata will now be free to play in tomorrow night’s Premiership fixture against Dundee at Celtic Park, ahead of a probable SFA disciplinary tribunal on Thursday.
Speaking after the 1-1 draw at New Douglas Park, Deila described the sending-off as “an okay decision” and expressed the view Boyata had not touched the ball.
But having subsequently viewed the incident from different angles, the Celtic manager now concurs with the view of many others that Boyata got to the ball first as he challenged Morris on the edge of the penalty area.
“I have changed my mind because I have seen it 100 times now, over and over again,” said Deila. “We are going to appeal the decision because he gets a touch on the ball and it’s not a red card.”
In his immediate post-match interviews, Deila was critical of Boyata’s positioning and failure to stay on his feet for the incident. That prompted a rebuke from BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton, the former Celtic striker branding Deila “crazy” and “naive” for publicly condemning his own player.
But Deila is unrepentant and insists he will continue to offer an honest appraisal of his players which he is adamant does not compromise his own relationship with them.
“I wasn’t talking about Dedryck’s values,” added Deila. “I was talking about football and that’s a completely different thing.
“If anyone supports the players, it’s me. I stand behind them and I always will. But this is about football tactics. I stand by what I said about wanting my players to stay on their feet. That’s my view as a coach, I want them to run with players instead of tackling.
“It’s nothing against Dedryck, it’s for the whole team. We have had too many red cards against us and I was honest. What’s the problem? People can be honest.
“Everyone knows I have a good working relationship with Dedryck and he has played almost every game this season. So this is no problem for me. I was honest on Friday and I’m being honest now.
“I spoke to Dedryck about it but I’m not sorry. I still believe what I said about players staying on their feet and Dedryck agrees with me.
“Honesty is one of my values. I want to win in an honest way. I don’t want to put pressure on the refs and say I don’t trust them.
“I believe in humanity. I believe everyone wants to do their best but you have to admit mistakes. I am also a humble guy and when I see something wrong, I will say it.
“You can’t fool the supporters. They see what they see. If I say something that isn’t right, they will say ‘He’s only doing that to protect things and keep a positive tone’.
“I see what I see and I say what I see. Dedryck is aware of this. I tell my players this too. We want to be a respected club with good values.
“That is not to try to find things to pressure people. Things should be right but I will say when they do wrong things, like the handball in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness last year.
“Everybody could see that was the wrong decision but I want to have a good relationship with the people around us. Players should be humble and honest. That’s important.”
Deila is aware his own comments on Friday night could count against Boyata in the appeal process.
“Maybe that is so,” he said. “I don’t know. But at least I showed that I was honest. When you see it again, you see he touched the ball, that it wasn’t a red card and that the Hamilton striker was also offside. So there are a couple of things that have gone wrong.”
Celtic have now collected 12 red cards under Deila’s management, many of them for “last man” challenges which have been ruled to have denied the opposition clear goalscoring chances.
Deila’s team have also incurred two automatic Uefa sanctions for having five or more players booked in European matches. But he insists their disciplinary record is due to aggressive tactics rather than aggressive behaviour.
“We don’t get those red cards because we yell at referees or for bad tackles,” he said. “We play aggressively and we also play with a high defensive line, so that means we get caught one against one playing in the opposition half of the pitch.
“We learn through experiences. One of the most important things for any defender is to stay on your feet, especially around the 18-yard box when you are alone with a player.
“Maybe they will have a bad touch and we also have quick players, so staying up is the right thing to do.”
Celtic were not punished for the two points they dropped in the 1-1 draw at Hamilton, with nearest rivals Aberdeen only able to record the same scoreline at home to St Johnstone on Saturday.
Deila’s side stay six points clear at the top of the table with 11 games of the campaign remaining.
“We are calm and focused,” he said. “We need to improve to get the results we need. If we can do that, we have a good chance.
“What Aberdeen are doing is up to them. When we get to the split and there are only five games left, we will see more clearly if we have a title race or not.
“Hopefully there won’t be! But if we both keep winning games, then it will be tight the whole way.”