Steven Gerrard has addressed Paul Heckingbottom’s recent outburst, as quoted in the Evening Times.
It comes after it emerged that referee, Steven McLean, phoned the Rangers manager to apologise for missing a foul in last week’s fixture at Easter Road.
James Tavernier was felled high up the pitch, but the ref waved play on. With the Gers skipper out of position, Hibs capitalised and scored an equaliser.
So poor and costly was the decision, that the official decided to apologise directly to Gerrard.
However, Heckingbottom fundamentally disagreed with that act. He labelled it ‘foolish’ and claimed it set a dangerous precedent.
It seems that it went down well with the Rangers boss, though. He has spoken of his satisfaction with his post-match dealings with McLean and SFA Refereeing chief, John Fleming.
“I went to see the officials 15 minutes after the game”, said Gerrard, as quoted by the Evening Times.
“That’s the rules. We had a professional conversation. I spoke to John Fleming who was apologetic and then I received a call from Steven McLean who was apologetic.”
“I admire the fact these people in the game are honest in analysing their own performance and we move on. But it was a tough phone call to take. There was an honesty that he got it wildly wrong. So feelings wise it was a mixed conversation to have.”
“‘I think most interviews I see with managers speaking about referees and officials they criticise them for not being honest and open…there will be time when Paul is on the other side of a decision and he may want an explanation. But I admire the official and the head of referees for how they handled that situation.”
While he certainly has a point in terms of setting a precedent, it did seem odd from Heckingbottom to condemn the referee’s actions in such strong terms.
After all, what more can you hope to gain from an official after a match. The decision isn’t going to change by then, but at least honesty brings closure to the matter.
Therefore, it’s unclear quite why the Hibs boss is so irked.
Gerrard is right, though.
If and when his team have a shocker given against them, I’m sure he’ll want a few answers of his own.