Rangers manager Michael Beale has backed Alfredo Morelos over his Tynecastle celebrations and claimed Neil McCann would regret calling the striker an “idiot”.
Former Hearts and Rangers winger McCann made the comment on BBC Radio Scotland after Morelos ran towards the home fans and put his finger to his mouth when a VAR check confirmed his second goal in Gers’ 3-0 win.
The Colombian had also celebrated the opener in a similar manner and McCann claimed he was “antagonising” the Hearts supporters.
When McCann’s comments were put to him, Beale said: “I wouldn’t agree with that. I think the Hearts supporters were maybe trying to incite Alfredo for the whole 90-plus minutes.
“If we are going to say players can’t celebrate goals now, we might as well stop the game.
“There was a long stoppage for that goal and he was 20-plus yards from them.
“I think a lot is made about these things in Scotland. When I worked down south I have never known this to be a big thing.
“When we score our first and second goal we are two yards from their fans. We have got to celebrate the goal. What do you want us to do? Not celebrate and everyone say he’s moody and he wants away because he doesn’t celebrate?
“Neil is on the radio, he is passionate, he played for both clubs, he’s trying to be impartial and he said what he said. I think he will regret that more than maybe Alfredo celebrating.”
Beale added: “I want him to really celebrate goals, I want the whole team to. It’s the hardest thing in football to do.
“We are a team that when we are not playing well, we get a lot thrown at us. When we are winning and winning away from home in front of a rival who are a place behind us in the table, they were unbeaten for 10 games, it was a big performance.
“I want people to play with passion and celebrate goals. He is not inciting, he wasn’t right in front of their face, he was at least 20 yards from the byline.
“VAR stops you celebrating and then he celebrated afterwards. I think it’s much ado about nothing.
“We should probably be talking about some of the abuse that comes the other way in stadiums, not the players celebrating goals.”
Beale appears to be rejuvenating Morelos, who only scored three goals in 18 games this season under Giovanni van Bronckhorst and played second fiddle to Antonio Colak. The 26-year-old now has six goals in 11 matches under Beale.
When asked what was behind the improvement, Beale said: “Just playing regularly and just enjoying his football. And we are creating a lot of chances. I think he could probably have a few more goals if I’m honest and that has probably driven him.
“That’s two away at Kilmarnock and two away at Hearts. I am over the moon with Alfredo at the minute. He is no bother to me around the building. So far so good.
“Antonio is waiting on the sidelines, he is not 100 per cent fit. But it’s difficult when a centre-forward is in such good form, it’s not really an area you would voluntarily rotate.
“So it’s difficult for Tony but earlier in the season the reverse was true and Tony was scoring a lot. So it’s a good place for us to be in.”