Leigh Griffiths has struck a further discordant note in the acrimonious fall-out from Celtic’s Europa League defeat in Molde by branding the reaction of the club’s travelling fans as “over the top”.
On the day his team-mate Kris Commons apologised for his furious outburst when he was substituted during the dismal 3-1 loss in Norway on Thursday night, Celtic striker Griffiths condemned the supporters who gathered beside the team bus outside the Aker Stadium to vent their anger at manager Ronny Deila and some of the players.
Around 700 Celtic fans made the trip to Molde and witnessed a largely abject display which leaves Deila’s men at the bottom of Group A with just two points from their first three matches.
“I think some of the criticism they gave us was a bit over the top,” said Griffiths. “Just the way they were shouting at the boys. The boys were already hurting about getting beaten, we don’t need fans shouting and bawling at us from two or three yards away.
“That doesn’t make it any easier for us. I didn’t speak to any of them. I had my headphones on. We were told there were fans outside giving a bit to us, so I put my headphones on and went outside. But when you are on the bus, you can hear what the fans are saying and I think the stick the manager got was a bit unfair.
“We can understand they are disappointed. They have paid good money to come and watch us play and watch us perform and we didn’t do that, so they have got to express their frustration. But I don’t think it was the best of times to do it, especially with how close they were from the bus to the ground.”
Commons was cheered as he made his way on to the bus on Thursday night, the Celtic fans having earlier expressed their unhappiness during the match when he was surprisingly replaced by Nadir Ciftci with 14 minutes remaining.
The 32-year-old gesticulated wildly and shouted as he left the pitch and made his way to the bench, with assistant manager John Collins and first-team coach John Kennedy bearing the brunt of his fury.
Commons’ conduct was branded “unacceptable” and “disrespectful” immediately after the game by Deila and the player yesterday issued a formal apology via Celtic’s official website.
“I’d like to apologise for my reaction last night, something that should never be shown publicly on the field,” said Commons. “I was very frustrated at how the night had gone. However, I did not handle this in the right way. My frustration at losing games and my desire to win will never change.
“I know we are all part of a team at Celtic and I am proud to be part of this team. I want this team to win and I am sure we can come together, work hard and get the results needed to qualify from this group. I still have every confidence we can do this and in a fortnight we have the chance to make amends. That’s the motivation now for us all.”
Deila would not confirm or deny whether Commons will also be fined for his actions.
“We will keep that inside the club,” said Deila. “We have come to a solution that everybody is happy with. That’s important because on Sunday we are back playing again against Dundee United. There are a lot of emotions going on, but we have to have discipline and react in the right places. Kris understands that and he will learn from it.
“He wanted to win, he said that in his apology. There was a lot of emotion going on and he thought he could do something extra in the game.
“Of course, that is something every player has in him. That’s fine, but show it with respect for the whole team. That’s what we have been talking about. I’m finished with that now. We have handled it inside the club and we move on.”
Deila revealed that new signing Carlton Cole will not be able make his debut against Dundee United tomorrow. The former England striker, who penned an 18-month deal with the Scottish champions earlier this week, is still short of full fitness after his release by West Ham United five months ago.