Let’s get one thing clear from the off – this is no knee-jerk reaction to the events of Sunday, or even the past couple of weeks. This is something I have been dwelling on for a while now… I think it’s time for Neil Lennon to go.
I have EVERY sympathy for Lenny and the struggles he’s had since he took over as Celtic manager – nobody deserves hatred, abuse, death threats and even actual physical assault for simply doing his job – but at the end of the day… he seems out of his depth.
Prior to taking over as caretaker manager when Tony Mowbray’s disastrous spell was ended by a pressing need to take care of his garden, Lennon had been a first team coach, and linked with the assistant manager’s role at MK Dons, and the manager’s job at Stockport County – both well known giants of World Football… or not.
Was Lennon given the job because he was the best choice? Because he had the credentials? Or was it simply a PR move to placate a Celtic support fast becoming restless with the direction that the board seem to be intent on taking the club? Of course, not having to pay out compensation was also a handy factor, given the £2m or so spent on Mowbray.
I’m not convinced Lennon was ready to be the main man at Celtic. Sure, he’s inspirational as a figurehead and as a motivator – that’s why in my eyes, he’d be an ideal assistant manager for us, but being a manager requires more than a sweet turn of phrase and the odd paint blistering speech in the dressing room.
It’s become clear that there are serious problems at Celtic Park on the pitch. On paper, the squad in place should be more than enough to turn over the likes of St Johnstone and Hearts; yet we struggle constantly. The team itself lacks cohesion and consistency. Lennon’s picks hardly help that.
The goalkeeping situation alone has been woefully managed. If Zaluska has ANY confidence left, it’s a minor miracle. Forster is not the answer, and if he is – why is he only on loan? Again? The same mismanagement and dithering is all the way through the team. Central defence, central midfield, and wide midfield are all perm any two from four (bar Scott Brown, he’s seemingly untouchable when fit) and the strikers seem to be Hooper plus any one from three.
Players that need runs in the team to sustain form and confidence are wheeled in and out on a seemingly random basis (Commons, Ledley, McCourt and Stokes) yet players struggling and that need a break (Samaras and Brown) are left in the team regardless, while new signings are either thrown in at the deep end (El Baddouri) or hardly used at all (Wanyama) with no middle ground.
The team’s tactics are inflexible to the extreme. It’s often said there’s no plan B – I’m not totally sure that there’s a plan A at times!
The Lennon experiment has had time to develop. Can you honestly say that Celtic are a better team NOW than when Lennon took over? Given that he’s spent far more money than anyone bar Rangers, we’re under performing on that investment. On paper, it’s a solid, if uninspiring in places, squad. St Johnstone and Motherwell and even Hearts should not hold any fears for us – yet they do.
If Lennon didn’t have the emotional attachment to the Celtic support that he did, there would be howls from the stands for his head. In the cold, hard light of day – look at the facts and the end results. They are simply not good enough.
I admire Lennon for his outright refusal to let the bigots and idiots win, and have great sympathy for him. However, no one man is bigger than the club… and surely, for the sake of the very club that Lennon obviously loves, it’s time for a change. While it’s not time for the tabloids to wheel out the cracked Celtic badge on the back page yet, there’s a nagging feeling that we’re on a collision course with that very situation unless action is taken soon.