WHAT’S the Spanish for “We’ve been VARed”? In fact, what is it in Italian, or Dutch for that matter?

Come to think of it, what is it in English? “Vee-ay-ard”? No, it must be “vard”, surely. Should it be spelled “Vared”, then? Hmm, that looks like it would rhyme with “spared” (which is what I should have done with you before banging on about the pronunciation of a non-existent word...)

Soon enough, though, we’ll know; so common are the feelings of grievance players, managers, commentators and pundits feel over the use of video assistant referees in football these days, those crusty curators of the OED will be creating the verb form in time for next Christmas’ edition of their sacred text.

Celtic have had more than their fair share of VAR decisions going against them this season in the Champions League, but are monitor checks really behind a long winless run in the competition? Can Rodgers be blamed for his approach? 

"It feels more as if it is a computer game, the constant looking at the screen. And, like I say, when the referee comes over to see the incident it is not a reflection of the actual challenge, it's a still with his foot up which straight away plants the seed for the referee.” That was Rodgers’ reaction to his Celtic side’s latest VARing after Daizen Maeda was sent off for a high-studs challenge  in their recent Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital.

Glasgow Times: Daizen Maeda checks on Mario HermosoDaizen Maeda checks on Mario Hermoso (Image: Getty)READ MORE: VAR cost Hibs place in Viaplay Cup final, insists McManus

The problem for Rodgers in denouncing VAR for its propensity to magnify the innocuous is that in yelping “We’ve been VARed” in the wake of a 6-0 defeat, one carries the kind of credibility normally reserved for the “I was framed” refrain echoing within a high-security prison.

He’s right, of course, that the still image of Maeda’s boot connecting with the shin of Atletico’s Mario Hermoso magnified the perception of the challenge. He was also right to point out that the reaction from the home supporters to the challenge as Hermoso flailed around on the deck screaming like a banshee probably influenced referee Ivan Kruzliak’s decision as well.

It wasn’t the worst challenge in the world; enough maybe for the first roll on the ground, but the five or six which followed were, to put it kindly, over-the-top, toe-curling and embarrassing. But I’m afraid that the image clearly and obviously showed a raised boot connecting with an opponent’s shin and this does merit a red card in today’s money. It was also an image you could sit side by side with Odin Thiago Holm’s red-card offence in round one against Feyenoord in Rotterdam in September and stymie a toddler in a game of spot the difference, so there was no excuse really for the experienced Japan internationalist to repeat the error of judgement.

Glasgow Times: Odin Thiago Holm was sent off in Rotterdam against FeyenoordOdin Thiago Holm was sent off in Rotterdam against Feyenoord (Image: Getty)READ MORE: Steve Clarke issues Rangers player with appeal ahead of Euro 2024

Some have pointed to Rodgers’ VAR objections as scapegoating, while others have gleefully returned to the notion that the Celtic manager is found wanting at this level, with the 6-0 drubbing added to his previous ignominious scorelines against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

Neither of these are true, however. Maeda’s red card, arriving in the 23rd minute with Celtic already a goal down through Antoine Griezmann’s early opener, undoubtedly altered the course of the game. Ten-man Celtic, aided by the excellent Joe Hart, had clung on courageously until first-half injury time when Alvaro Morata’s deflected strike proved out of reach for the former England No.1.

At 2-0 and a man down at half time in Madrid, Slovakian whistle-clutcher Kruzliak might as well have packed up his VAR equipment there and then and done the visitors a favour. The second period proved to be a bloodbath for Celtic, with deadly duo Griezmann and Morata adding to their tallies, while Samuel Lino and Saul Niguez also landed blows.

Glasgow Times: Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring for Atletico MadridAntoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring for Atletico Madrid (Image: Getty)READ MORE: 'Unacceptable' Celtic need to have a look in the mirror

The scoreline would suggest that Celtic were outclassed by a ruthless Atletico side simply operating on a higher level than the Scottish champions. In the grand scheme of things, of course, this is true, but Celtic have not regressed on this stage under Rodgers since the Northern Irishman returned to succeed Ange Postecoglou. The 6-0 demolition in Madrid aside, there is room to argue that they have in fact improved.

Postecoglou was widely praised for his side’s performances in his winless Champions League campaign last term, especially after their opening fixture at home to then European champions Real Madrid despite being picked off in the second half in a 3-0 defeat.

Rodgers’ opening Group E fixture this season was away to pot-one side Feyenoord, and it was another case of “We were VARed”, with centre-back Gustaf Lagerbielke handed a harsh second yellow card after the referee watched back a challenge inside the box on Igor Paixao. Rodgers then saw his side reduced to nine men when second-half substitute Holm was given a straight red for a studs-up challenge on Mats Wieffer. It finished 2-0 to the home side.

Under Postecoglou, draws against a pot-three side in Shakhtar Donetsk still reeling from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, without a domestic league to play in, and playing their “home” fixtures in Poland were lamentable. For now, the 2-1 home defeat against pot-three side Lazio this time out represents a worse return from Rodgers’ side, but they were agonisingly close to a famous victory before being VARed on that occasion, too – Luis Palma’s late strike to make it 2-1 to Celtic painfully ruled out for an offside against Maeda in the build-up, before Spanish veteran Pedro nicked it for the Romans at the death.

Glasgow Times: Luis Palma celebrates after removing his shirt against LazioLuis Palma celebrates after removing his shirt against Lazio (Image: SNS)READ MORE: The Celtic Trust confirms purchase of further 10,000 shares

Last season, against pot-two side RB Leipzig (the equivalent of Atletico this term) Postecoglou’s team were comprehensively beaten 2-0 and 3-1 home and away respectively. Rodgers has at least managed a point against Atletico at home, a match his side were again a whisker away from winning, before Tuesday night’s trouncing in Spain.

Against Feyenoord at home, Rodgers has the chance to at least equal Postecoglou’s points tally from last season with a game to spare – with qualification for the Europa League knockouts still a live prospect.

But far from a lack of ability, tactical nous from the manager, or indeed the injustices of being VARed, before a ball has been kicked the Celtic manager faces a problem brought on by his own players.

The two he started in the wide positions on Tuesday night, Maeda and Palma, will both be missing for the visit of the Dutch outfit. The Honduran, who has been a standout for the Parkhead side since his arrival from Greek outfit Aris FC in the summer, will be unavailable after collecting a hat-trick of cautions in the opening four matches in Group E. The one for removing his shirt to celebrate his strike to make it 2-1 against Lazio represents one of the most unforgivable crimes for any manager in normal circumstances; given that the goal he was celebrating was VARed out and Celtic went on to somehow lose against Lazio at the death only compounds the crime.

To be suspended in such circumstances is simply unacceptable. Performances have not been the problem for Rodgers in Europe this time around, but neither has it been the fault of VAR. If he is to achieve his goal of progressing this team at on this stage, Rodgers must first address the discipline problem they have at this level.