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Supporter Criticism In Scotland Cuts Deep

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers knows what it means to incur the wrath of supporters in Scotland, receiving an unwanted reminder in recent days. Inevitably, Phillipe Clement, his counterpart at Rangers, will, too, one day (though not for a while, if results keep trending upward).

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The Full Scottish

Unfortunately, American forward Christian Ramirez can speak to this issue as well. He told the Press & Journal in Aberdeen earlier this week that abuse from Dons supporters resulted in his hospitalization following a panic attack and, ultimately, led to his departure last January from Pittodrie (though he had fallen out of favor with then manager Jim Goodwin by then as well).

All’s well that ends well, of course: Ramirez would go on to help the Columbus Crew secure MLS Cup last fall, and he’s part of a team projected by many to repeat the success this term.

“I’m in a completely different mental space now,” he told the Press & Journal. “[But] it was a tough stretch.”

That “tough stretch” included an incident outside McDiarmid Park in Perth, following an Aberdeen loss to St. Johnstone, in which Dons supporters shouted at Ramirez’s wife and children. The same group then allegedly tried to bait the player as he boarded the team coach, filming his response, or lack thereof, on their phones.

“I’m glad I didn’t take a bite on to it,” he said.

If he had, he’d have likely made a bad situation worse.

“Any footballer can take judgement and criticism on the pitch,” he said. “But when a situation happens when your family is attacked…”

We all live and breathe with the success, or failure, of our teams. At Ibrox, supporters were fuming in the fall, before Clement took over for Michael Beale and not only closed the gap but overtook the defending Premiership champions.

Rodgers has been on the opposite end of that, really since December, when his side lost two league matches in a row. They’ve recovered a bit since then, but Saturday’s draw, at home, against Kilmarnock has fans enraged again.

Apparently, injuries to squad stalwarts Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate, among others, are no excuse—though to be fair, Celtic should still have enough good players left to dominate most teams in Scotland, something they haven’t done in months.

The rancor at Parkhead hasn’t spilled over from the stands—yet—like it did following a loss to Ross County in the League Cup in 2020, notably during the pandemic, when fans weren’t allowed in stadiums.

Though it might, if commentator, and former Celtic star, Chris Sutton keeps talking (US-based supporters of a certain vintage may remember television spots proclaiming that “when EF Hutton talks, people listen”—well, when Chris Sutton talks…). Amid a string of valid criticisms of the Hoops manager, the retired striker (who also famously turned on friend and former teammate Neil Lennon during the latter’s second tenure as manager) claimed, “I can’t think of one player this season at Celtic who he has improved and that’s on the manager.”

How he can’t come up with the names Matt O’Riley, Liam Scales and Stephen Welsh is beyond us. But we digress. The message here is that criticism is often justified (these are paid professionals, after all) and okay, as long as it remains reasonable (Sutton!) and not personal. Here’s hoping Ramirez’s experience isn’t repeated. Though we’re not optimistic.

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