STUART McCall has backed Ronny Deila’s call for referees to be allowed to explain contentious decisions after games but insists managers must expect to be held to some level of accountability.
Rangers manager McCall revealed he let out a cheer on Thursday when he heard the news that Inverness defender Josh Meekings had been cleared to play in next month’s Scottish Cup final after a judicial panel threw out SFA compliance officer Tony McGlennan’s charge against the player.
As the controversy surrounding the match officials’ failure to spot Meekings’ penalty-area handball against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final last Sunday rumbles on, Deila says referees should face post-match media scrutiny as they do in his native Norway. McCall agrees with Deila on that point but was also dismayed by Celtic’s decision to write to the SFA seeking an explanation of the officiating at Hampden.
“Sometimes it would be a good thing for refs to come out and explain their decisions after games,” said McCall. “It depends when you do it, I suppose.
“It’s like managers talking about decisions immediately after games. Sometimes managers also have to be big enough to say ‘see that slating I gave the ref last week? I was wrong’. It can work both ways.
“It could open a can of worms, but I think referees would like to come out and say ‘hand on heart, I got it wrong, I missed it’.
“The decision not to ban Meekings for the cup final is 100 per cent the right decision. I’m sure nearly 100 per cent of people in football will agree. When I heard the news I went ‘yes’ (punches air in celebration).
“Listen, everyone knows it was a red card, a sending off. No doubt. But if you see the pictures, when Leigh Griffiths heads it, Meekings has his head down. You sometimes see players sticking their hand out to deliberately stop a penalty. He’s not done that. He’s made himself bigger, it’s a sending off, but there’s no way you can prove it’s deliberate.
“For me, it shouldn’t have gone this far but the right decision has been made.
“Referees should be allowed to referee games. But if someone has elbowed someone or punched someone off the ball, that’s different. If it’s done deliberately. But this wasn’t deliberate. I can think of loads of games that I’ve been involved in that you could have had retrospective disciplinary action. But where do you stop with it? For something deliberate, then yes, but this Meekings incident wasn’t deliberate.
“Obviously it’s probably cost Celtic massively. There’s no doubt about it. But they’ve messed up and you can’t go back and change it. If I wrote to the SFA what would I expect back from them? ‘Sorry, it was a mistake?’ What more can be said? I don’t know what more they can actually say.
“I’m sure every manager and supporter can look back on dozens of decisions that didn’t go the way of their teams.
“Everyone talks about the decision which didn’t go Aberdeen’s way in the last game of the season against Motherwell at Pittodrie last year. But there was a decision the previous Boxing Day at Fir Park where Russell Anderson took out Jack Leitch and forearm-smashed the ball over the line and the goal stood.
“So as sore as it is, as desperate as you feel, you have to recognise that human beings make mistakes. There is not one referee or linesman I’ve known in my life who would make mistakes without being honest.”
McCall today hopes to guide Rangers a step closer to securing runners-up spot in the Championship and ensuring one play-off tie fewer will require to be negotiated in their bid for promotion to the Premiership.
Ahead of Falkirk’s visit to Ibrox, McCall’s squad are in far more buoyant mood than prior to his arrival. Midfielder Nicky Law, whose own form has been noticeably revitalised, believes the change is down to an abandonment of the “long ball” tactics he says were prevalent under Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall.
“It was difficult before and I wasn’t enjoying it,” said Law. “We weren’t playing good football, it was long. I felt that the midfield was being bypassed quite a lot in games and we weren’t really involved in the games as much as we would like.
“But as you have seen in the last five or six weeks, we have got good players in midfield who want to play. We have played diamonds and things like that just to get people playing again. We have been playing good stuff again which we knew we would.
“In the early parts of the season there were spells where we did play some good stuff but there were more spells where we didn’t and we were going too long to big Jon Daly and people like that. It was always in the air.
“The style of play has probably changed a little bit, it has been tinkered with a little bit, since the manager has come in. He has obviously been playing with two smaller guys up front together so you can’t really play the long ball.
“The emphasis has been on playing out from the back and through midfield and getting the ball wide and I think everybody has enjoyed it. Hopefully we can continue that into the play-offs.”