Rumour Mill: Robbie Neilson blasts ref | Gordon Strachan defends Hampden | Rangers blow title decider

Rangers manager Mark Warburton. Picture: Getty Images
Rangers manager Mark Warburton. Picture: Getty Images
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RANGERS manager Mark Warburton admits his side blew title celebration chances against Raith Rovers; Robbie Neilson fumes at red card call by referee as Hearts lose to Celtic; Gordon Strachan cools criticism of Hampden turf, plus all the rest of today’s football news and gossip

Scott Brown deserved red, says angry Robbie Neilson

Referee Bobby Madden should have sent off Celtic skipper Scott Brown for a two-footed lunge at Hearts’ Juanma, said Robbie Neilson. The Hearts manager saw his side slip to a 3-1 defeat as one of his own players, Juwon Oshaniwa, saw red late in the game for a second booking in injury time.

After Celtic went seven points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership, Neilson fumed: “I thought there should have been action taken. In my opinion it’s minimum a booking and it doesn’t happen. Oshaniwa’s one at the end, he wins the ball. For me, that first tackle is worse.” (Scottish Sun on Sunday)

We thought title was in the bag, admits Rangers’ Mark Warburton

Rangers were just seconds away from sealing the Scottish Championship title yesterday before Raith Rovers equalised to put the champagne on ice. And Mark Warburton admitted that before Harry Panayiotou’s 94th-minute leveller – making it 3-3 – he thought his side were seconds away from celebrating. 
“We thought that it was all done. The players and staff are all frustrated. We’ve conceded three goals. We know that’s not good enough.” In a frank assessment of his team’s defensive failings, he added: “When we don’t take care, we look an average team. When we do, we look a very good team.” (Mail on Sunday)

READ MORE: Rumour Mill: Rangers trio set to leave

Dean Shiels: Subs’ bench is no joke

Rangers’ Dean Shiels has talked up the art of being a successful substitute, saying that the days of “having a laugh” on the bench are gone.

The Rangers midfielder has only started one game this year, but has often featured from the bench for Mark Warburton.

While admitting he wasn’t satisfied at being a bench regular, Shiels said: “I think you really need to see how the game’s going, study it and see how you can affect things.” He added: “There’s a lot more analysis and a lot of studying off the pitch. That can only help results.” (Sunday Post)

Ronny Deila faces fight to keep Patrick Robertson

Celtic loan star Patrick Roberts starred in Celtic’s 3-1 win over Hearts with a sensational display – prompting fulsome praise from manager Ronny Deila. The Manchester City starlet scored two goals against the Edinburgh side, but Deila fears he may not be able to utilise Roberts’ skills for next season’s European campaign after Roberts helped England’s U19 side qualify for the European Championships in midweek.

“He was very, very good,” said Deila. “He was maybe involved seven or eight times on the ball and he scored two goals, what more can you expect?” He added: “We want him for the Champions League qualifiers. Patrick can be a key player for us in the title and Scottish Cup run-in.” (Sunday Mail)

Gordon Strachan defends Hampden Park pitch

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has defended the Hampden playing surface after it came in for fierce criticism in the wake of his side’s 1-0 win over Denmark.

Despite drawing sharp criticism from Scotland captain Scott Brown, the pitch wasn’t nearly as bad as some had made out, Strachan said.

“I played on a lot worse pitches than the current Hampden pitch myself – far wirse, I don’t have a problemw with it.”

The news comes as groundsmen across Scotland complained about the flawed rating system for pitches across the country, with Hampden granted “platinum” status – the highest grading available. (Sunday Post, Sunday Mail)

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