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Defending the defensible

CELTIC are the latest team to be accused of playing anti-football but I don't care whether it is coming from Bernd Schuster, Lionel Messi or Johan Cruyff: you can't expect teams who don't have anything like the sort of resources Barcelona have to go and play an open game at the Camp Nou.

Celtic celebrate Georgios Samaras's Camp Nou opener   Photograph: Getty
Celtic celebrate Georgios Samaras's Camp Nou opener Photograph: Getty

I spoke out in defence of Walter Smith's tactics when Rangers almost won the Uefa Cup, stood up for Ayr United when Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels criticised them after last season's Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final and the same goes for the Parkhead club in midweek.

It is easy for the best clubs in the world to say the opposition should press high up the pitch and come out and attack. But that only plays to their strengths and makes life easier for them.

Why should teams open up just so they can be ripped them to shreds? I am not surprised Neil Lennon bit back about Schuster's comments.

I said to Stephen Craigan on the radio ahead of the game that all the pressure was off Celtic and they could do well over there, but they would have to run about for long periods and graft, funnel back behind the ball and sit deep. Stephen replied that he had never ever enjoyed a match like that but I never had a problem with it.

I was involved in many a game where my team played as a deep unit, and got a result. I keep going back to that Germany game for Scotland when we wore the salmon pink strips. We hardly got a touch of the ball but beat them 1-0.

When I knew the opposition had better technical players than me and were paying bigger money, nothing gave me more satisfaction than frustrating the hell out of them by having a team spirit and working as unit to get what Celtic nearly got in the Camp Nou.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes you wish Scotland would open up a bit more, or that Walter Smith had taken the shackles off a bit more at Rangers. I like to see attacking football but you can't argue if these tactics bring success, whether it is Celtic running Barcelona so close or Rangers almost winning the Uefa Cup.

I usually think Barcelona will always turn a game round and eventually get a goal, but I was starting to believe they weren't going to do it in midweek.

With Celtic sitting so deep, the equaliser was one of the best goals I have seen executed in such a small space. It wasn't just Andres Iniesta's run, it was his first touch lay-off, then being still on the move to get the second pass, and the way he hit the shot early.

It would have been a great point for Celtic if they had held on, but if someone had said to Neil Lennon at the start that he would have four points from Benfica at home, Spartak away, and Barca away, he would have bitten your hand off.

Apart from the disappointment of losing the game so late on, the other downside of the week for Celtic fans was the news Victor Wanyama had turned down an improved deal.

I read the agent's quotes and there is no doubt he is attracting interest. His game has everything – pace, power, nastiness, and he has added a few goals – and is only going to get better. He is under contract until 2015, so at least Celtic are in a strong position, and there is plenty more negotiating to be done.

ANOTHER issue which refuses to go away is goal-line technology, and the clamour for it will only increase after referee Stevie O'Reilly denied Motherwell a perfectly good goal against Hibernian on Friday.

The Barclays Premier League have already begun the process of bringing the technology in for next season, and we need a starting point too.

I understand the cost implications for Scottish football, but surely Sky and ESPN could get together and say they are going to use it for every Scottish live game. We've been talking about it for long enough.

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