Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has accused Celtic interim boss Neil Lennon and his assistant John Kennedy of ‘playing the victim card’ with their defence of Scott Brown’s conduct during last Sunday’s tempestuous Old Firm showdown.
In the immediate aftermath of his team’s 2-1 defeat, which ended in ugly scenes as players from both teams clashed at the final whistle, Gerrard claimed Celtic captain Brown “antagonised it all” and deserved to be punished for his actions.
Lennon fully backed Brown, labelling the Rangers players’ treatment of the veteran midfielder as “disgraceful” after Alfredo Morelos was sent off for a retaliatory elbow in his face and Ryan Kent lashed out at him following Celtic’s winning goal.
Kent has now been issued with a notice of complaint by the Scottish FA for the incident, missed at the time by referee Bobby Madden, and faces a probable two-match ban at a fast track tribunal hearing tomorrow.
Both clubs could face further disciplinary action for failing to control their players in the melee which started after Rangers left-back Andy Halliday remonstrated with Brown for celebrating directly in front of the visiting support.
Celtic number two Kennedy hit back at claims Brown was guilty of provocation, describing them as ‘ludicrous’ and insisting the 33-year-old did nothing wrong.
Gerrard declined to comment further on the post-match fracas until he learns of any potential charges from the Scottish FA. But he was witheringly dismissive of the case made on Brown’s behalf by Lennon and Kennedy.
“Neil Lennon will say what Neil Lennon wants to say,” said Gerrard. “His assistant will say whatever he wants to say.
“If they want to play the victim card, that’s up to them. No problem. For me, the Old Firm game is done. They won the game. There were a lot of talking points and flashpoints and I’ve spoken about them all.
“We will wait and see what happens and we’ll speak about it then. There is nothing really to say on it just yet.
“It’s not the time to focus on the individuals involved. Things happen in the Old Firm that people are going to talk about. That’s the reality, that’s life.”
Sunday’s defeat left Rangers 13 points behind Celtic at the top of the Premiership but Gerrard insists his team’s performance hardened his belief the gap in quality between the clubs has closed this season.
“I respect the gap in terms of the points, I’m not shying away from that or in denial about it,” he said. “But you have to analyse these games compared to 12 months ago, when they were a mismatch and 90 percent of Rangers fans were watching them from behind the couch. Now I’m confident we will put a team out that can compete with Celtic, without a doubt.”