SO a lot to manage Celtic as the football equivalent of living on Easy Street. Fifteen years ago, Martin O’Neill’s tenure ended with a painful concession of the title on his last day at Rangers. After staying a season too long – even by his own admission – Gordon Strachan left in 2009 with the Rangers again the champions; Celtic support was tired of one-liners and one-dimensional play.
Tony Mowbray worked hard before he was fired. Having taken the helm for the first time, Neil Lennon resigned in 2014 with the gloom of a race with a horse unable to stimulate him any longer. By the end of the Ronny Deila draft two years later, it was accepted that this punt was worthy of a small club. Celtic raised the bar by hiring Brendan Rodgers, but it was only so long that the current Leicester City manager was going to deal with being the only fish in a small pond; internal grudge at the start of the 2018-19 season preceded the inevitable.
No one, however, encountered anything like the level of vitriol offered to Lennon at that time, surely the dying embers of his second period in power. With police deployed towards a barking crowd and missiles flying towards Celtic players and staff as they left their stadium after a first Cup loss since Donald Trump was – for the first time – just a candidate In the hopeful presidential election, a growing wave of abuse has peaked.
There can be no defense of the disgusting scenes, even before the circumstances of the pandemic were considered, but they were not a total surprise. Lennon, immersed in Celtic as a player and manager, has been treated surprisingly by keyboard warriors and Football Manager obsessives. The club’s next newsletter that salutes the “Celtic family” must be greeted with laughter.
Celtic fans should – within reason – demand success. The current restrictions on people’s lives and the lack of alternative outlets may well fuel discord. Yet what seems to exist now is an empowered group that cannot stand defeat.
They created such a frenzy over the concept of 10 Scottish titles in a row – an insignificant feat – that even rational fans have lost all sense of reason. In March, Lennon was praised for relaunching Celtic’s season to the point where they led Rangers by 13 points. Now he’s being ridiculed as incompetent. Defensively awful Celtic have a real challenger in a revived Rangers; every error is magnified.
A number of their players feel they are on the verge of moving to a richer environment or should be there already. Lennon knew this in August. “Have a good mindset, have a good attitude,” he says. “If some of you don’t want to be here, go. The Northern Irishman spent the next few weeks praising too much, but the genius was out of the bottle. The body language of so many individuals has been overwhelming.
Lennon has no interest in playing the victim. “I take it all” and “the past counts for nothing” were among his remarks following Sunday’s loss to Ross County. Lennon has an experience level to know he will end up paying for the steep drop in the field. This level of toxicity and consistently error-prone performance seems fatal, even to someone with a 72% win rate.
Lennon cannot be relieved of all blame. Whatever team he put against Ross County, it should have been pretty strong. Successive Sparta Prague 4-1 tankings cannot be acceptable to any Celtic manager. Even in the win earlier in the season, Celtic were slow.
Still, this is not a binary discussion. It should be good to emphasize the qualities of the manager without being accused of cheerleading. Lennon has already shown that he can handle Celtic perfectly; whether it is seeing Barcelona with Efe Ambrose and Kelvin Wilson at center-back, developing Virgil van Dijk, stabilizing the club after Rodgers’ abrupt exit or chairing this clear run last season.
Deciding it was time to end his playing career, at Wycombe, Lennon felt the “mundane” environment of Lower League football did not excite him. The 49-year-old has pointed out his team’s awkwardness when handling football during coronavirus but perhaps the manager himself, who thrives on the buzz of a big club, is not up to the task. easy.
No one cared to listen when it was pointed out that Celtic were missing the opportunity to establish themselves as a strong European club during Rangers’ years in the wild. No club had more leeway to plan and build than Celtic, who instead celebrated crushing teams with a 10e, 20e or 30e of their budgets with immense joy.
Twenty consecutive titles should have been easily achievable. Being eliminated from the Champions League by Malmö or AEK Athens, much more reasonable barometers, did not seem to count. Without any pressure, the advice could at least appear to be complacent.
In the summer, Celtic managed to recruit a goalkeeper, Vasilis Barkas. The Greek cost £ 5million but was later dropped. Shane Duffy, an expensive moneylender from Brighton, can’t make it into the starting XI after a series of blunders. None of Celtic’s arrivals in the last two transfer windows have been successful. The team is desperately short of fast and wide players in attack.
While this makes it easy to raise questions about Nick Hammond, the club’s hiring manager, the fact that his predecessor Lee Congerton also suffered struggles implies a broader structural issue. Celtic’s blatant waste of resources should not be ignored. They were allowed to revel in the sales of Moussa Dembélé and Kieran Tierney without sufficient recognition of the portion of these revenues consumed by Marian Shved, Marvin Compper, Jack Hendry, Ismaila Soro, Patrik Klimala, Boli Bolingoli and many others. . .
Decision making, pressure and confidence all bled in Celtic’s run. The idea that has been allowed to persist – that Lennon is some sort of trainer dinosaur, only interested in arguing with the players – is totally wrong. More analysis and more form work has been done with this team than when Celtic were dominant, in an effort to recover the situation.
After O’Neill, the Celtic have toured the houses. Strachan, Mowbray, Lennon, Deila, and Rodgers are all completely different types. The lack of an obvious Plan B now, coupled with the reluctance to scream from behind the scenes, has undoubtedly been at the forefront of the board’s thinking. The Celtic have, collectively, sunk into a perfect storm.