Former Celtic star Frank McGarvey has praised Gordon Strachan for his handling of the highly-publicised spat between Artur Boruc and Aiden McGeady which threatened to overshadow the Homecoming Scottish Cup fifth-round win over Queen’s Park on Saturday.
The Parkhead boss had admitted there had been a verbal exchange between the players on the Lennoxtown training pitch the Thursday before the 2-1 win over the Irn-Bru Second Division side.
However, to Strachan’s consternation, reports emerged on the morning of the game claiming that the Poland goalkeeper had a more serious altercation with McGeady in the dressing room afterwards.
After the match Strachan moved to draw a line under the episode, saying: “I’ve spoken to the players and as far as I’m concerned it’s finished.”
McGarvey took a keen interest in the situation given his part in one of the most infamous bust-ups in Scottish football. In 1987, as a St Mirren player, he was involved in a dressing room row with then Love Street assistant boss Jimmy Bone which led to him staying away from the club for three months.
McGarvey said that unlike the St Mirren manager at that time, Alex Smith, Strachan acted in the proper manner.
He said: “It was a brilliant piece of management by Gordon Strachan.
“He did the right thing and he dealt with it properly.
“There could have been a problem that Celtic did not need, especially before the big game against Rangers next week.
“But he got the two players together right away and solved the problem before it escalated.
“Billy McNeill did the same when Davie Provan and I had a fall-out at training one day when I was at Celtic.
“In this case, Strachan has also moved it on so you have to take your hat off to him.”
McGarvey added: “When I was involved with Jimmy Bone, Alex Smith should have sorted it out the same way as Strachan did.
“It was his mismanagement of the situation which eventually cost him his job.
“I was substituted in the first leg of a European Cup Winners’ Cup game against Norwegian side Tromso at Love Street.
“I scoffed at Jimmy for saying it was a tactical substitution and headed up the tunnel to the dressing room.
“Jimmy came barging in and before I knew it, we were having a rammy.
“There was no damage done but by the time I left Love Street that night I had handed in a written transfer request and had decided to withdraw my labour.
“That game was played in September and I didn’t play again until December.
“Smith should have got Jimmy and I in the next day and sorted it out.
“A handshake was all that was needed and we could have moved forward.
“St Mirren hardly won a game when I was away and it ended up with Alex Smith getting the sack.”
While Strachan turns his attention to next week’s Old Firm clash, Queen’s Park will look back at a fine performance against their Glasgow rivals.
There looked no way back for the part-time amateurs after Gary Caldwell and Scott McDonald scored with first-half headers.
Spiders substitute Adam Coakley’s 65th-minute strike gave the visitors some encouragement but his booking for leaving the field to celebrate with the visiting fans returned to haunt him when he was sent off 11 minutes from the end by referee Willie Collum after picking up a second caution for a foul on Lee Naylor.
Queen’s Park boss Gardner Spiers, like most of the 22,223 fans inside Celtic Park, believed the sending off went against the spirit of the game.
He said: “Some people say that if Queen’s Park go to Celtic Park and score, then you have every right to celebrate with your fans but I suppose rules are rules.
“I don’t think the tackle which got him the second yellow was malicious, but the first yellow card was the problem.
“But everybody connected with the club was really proud of the players.”