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Celtic must keep faith with Lennon

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Jim Spence | 11:13 UK time, Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Celtic board must keep faith with Neil Lennon.

Despite last night's defeat in Inverness, and the squeals of more histrionic Celtic fans, Lennon deserves more time to complete the job he has started, whether his team wins the title or not.

In his first season in charge he is still in contention to win the SPL and the Scottish Cup.

Not bad for a rookie manager.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Lennon saw his side's title challenge falter at Inverness, where Celtic suffered a shock 3-2 defeat

Wednesday night's result and performance at Inverness was a dire one and may yet scupper Celtic's title ambitions.

But Lennon refused to hide from his, or his team's culpability in their own downfall.

Lennon has assembled the basis of a very decent team.

It is a work in progress though and can't be built overnight.

Yes he has managerial frailties, so too does Jose Mourinho and every other manager.

The important thing is that he learns quickly.

To judge him at the end of one season in the job, as some panicky Celtic fans seem to want to do, would be harsh in the extreme.

It would be short-term thinking and could prove to be self-defeating.

Next season Lennon will go head to head with Ally McCoist for the main honours in Scotland.

McCoist has served a very useful apprenticeship under Walter Smith, but even with Wattie on the end of a phone, he will have to make his own decisions next season.

Lennon and McCoist will be on a more level playing field in terms of experience than the Celtic manager and Smith have been this season.

The two men have made the journey from supporting, playing for and finally managing the clubs they love, but they are still novices in the management game.

Of course Celtic and indeed Rangers too, could take the view that they would be better off with a "Big Name" from elsewhere.

History should teach both clubs that that particular road can be paved with broken glass.


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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think in the SPL, with the squad Celtic have, I would be expecting a top 2 finish aswell.....

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't think Celtic fans should be laying the blame for not winning the league at Lennon's door.

    Okay, maybe he could have done a few things better but for a rookie manager to have his team performing anywhere near title challengers is not bad.

    If Celtic want someone to blame for over 2 years of no trophies they should blame their board. Rangers have been on there knees for a few years now and yet Celtic haven't spent a great deal of money despite the fact they keep telling us how much better off than Rangers they are.

    The board made a mistake by not giving Strachan money in his last season. He could have buried Rangers with a few astute signings.

    None of this though is really Lennon's fault he can only work with what the board give him.

  • Comment number 3.

    And replace him with who? The only qualified man who might want the job would be Paul Mabert and event then there is no guarantee he would leave norwich (where he is rightly idolised) for the Old Firm pressure cooker. No way will he be fired and no way does he deserve to be.

  • Comment number 4.

    Lets wait and see who actually wins the league before we start chopping and changing things again. Lennon has already done enough to show he should be given the job next year but he needs to be aware that we have seen from Celtic this season has simply not been good enough. With Rangers troubles we should be walking this league and the fact we haven't is because we have too many players who are not fit to wear the shirt (Mulgrew, MCourt,Murphy and Stokes come to mind). If we can't win

  • Comment number 5.

    A picture is worth a thousand words they say.

    This picture sums him up - he is an emotional liability.

    Like most people who slide from one extreme to the other he can appear quite personable in front of the camera and yet inside there awaits a very angry man just waiting to pounce.

    Will he be punished for encroaching on the field of play and kicking those water bottles last night?

  • Comment number 6.

    Is there any question of Celtic not keeping faith with Lennon? News to me.

  • Comment number 7.

    Considering Rangers have half a squad, Centre Half is 40, lost top goal scorer halfway through season, been playing in Europe up till March, key players lost through injury at critical time of season, I think Celtic have done a great job to keep within a point of them with three games to go.

  • Comment number 8.

    Too many key players under achieved when we needed them to hit top gear but we have to show some consistency throughout the club and that starts with ensuring Neil is there to see the job he started through.The Mowbray experiment was a prime example of how not to do it.Stick it out with Lenny and see what he can achieve....novice coach gaining valuable experience in a pressure cooker environment.LENNY...YOU HAVE MY BACKING!Hail Hail!

  • Comment number 9.

    Dear oh dear. A few years ago and there would have been an outcry at someone with no previous managerial experience managing one of the "Glasgow Giants" TM - next season we could have both of them managed by novices.

    Lucky he's a died in the wool Celtic man otherwise the paying fans might be a tad annoyed. Same with McCoist at Rangers. Club legend as a player but whats he done as a manager to deserve his shot? The key requirement seems to be "being cheap and someone the fans won't boo."

    Lucky the journalists are playing the game as well rather than asking what the hells going on - eh Jim? Yeah 2nd out of a 2 horse race (with one of the horses half dead). definately deserves more time

  • Comment number 10.

    It would almost be an act of charity if they did. He has failed so far to press home numerous advantages, used a lot of dirty tricks, and spread a lot of poison around the SPL this season.

    I think the pressure of the job is too much for him - he doesn't look very well.

  • Comment number 11.

    I certainly hope that Celtic keep faith with Neil Lennon as I wouldn't want anyone else managing the club. I'm a Rangers fan.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not terribly sure who'd want the job if they get shot of Lennon. Sure, it's one of the "non-refusal" jobs in Scotland, but is there anyone else out there ?

    He keeps on banging the 'passionate' drum to explain his behaviour. It's not passion Jim, it's just borderline thuggery.

    Lennon should be kept on, regardless of the SPL title destination, although he really has to sort out his personal anger management issues, deal with accepting referees decisions and just keep to managing the team.

    2011/12 McCoist v Lennon should be interesting.

  • Comment number 13.

    Jim I agree it would be completely unfair to sack Lennon if Celtic now do not win the league, and since we have now lost two key members of our midfield for the rest of the season I think it looks all over, it would be a shock if DU and Hearts took points off the Gers, and even more of a shock if Celtic win their three games.

    I think generally Lennon’s buys have been good and we do have the making of a good young team, even the back four apart from last night were working well, but the one thing that worries me is Lennon’s behavior.

    I understand that faceless cowards and morons have made his life impossible, but in my opinion Lennon needs to calm down during games or resign, if he can't handle decisions going against him or players underperforming with his contorted facial expressions and foul mouth reactions, then he needs to find a new occupation, I’m sorry but his actions and expressions are embarrassing, I don't care if other managers are just as bad, he needs to calm down now. I hope he can do so and manage Celtic for many successful years in the future.

  • Comment number 14.

    Dispite last night I believe Lennon has had a terrific season. Managers live and breathe through their signings and players like Izaguirre, Kayal, Hooper & Commons (just to name a few) have been fantastic this season, all at a small fraction of the price Celtic could sell them for this summer.

    As a Celtic fan I am gutted at last nights result, but couldn't be happier with Lennon's first full season as a manager. I think he has been tremendous.

  • Comment number 15.

    Listen guys I have not used this blog much before, but one thing is for sure Lennon has had a rough ride from the press and opposition supporters, Walter Smith has lost the place with refs and other managers many a time even with his experience, and any objective person would argue McCoist got off with poor behavior at the last OF match, I just want Lennon to calm down and rise above it as he does during interviews, and i think his treatment has been a disgrace and it is because of his background, Scotland is a sectarian country, why don't they have a go at Walter Smith for leaving the Scotland job before we have qualified for instance, nobody has been treated as badly as Lennon, it's shameful, even heard the ICT supporters should we hate Neil Lennon last night. Utter disgrace.

  • Comment number 16.

    Managing in the Old Firm in Glasgow is a job that MANY people would have difficulty handling. It is a toxic fishbowl. The one thing that Lennon seems to have is an eye for talent.
    Look at Hooper, Kayal, Ledley and Izaguerre as examples of players brought in under his management. Like all rookies in all jobs and dealing with a very experienced counterpart across the city at Rangers, I believe he has done a great job. There have been bumps along the road but that is why the season lasts 10 months. Celtic needs some stability in the Management team and in the playing squad at this point, give them time to mature and grow together as there is tremendous possibilities for the future at Celtic park right now.

  • Comment number 17.

    Curiously I agree with the comments about the developing nature of the team and of course nobody (sane) could do anything other than condemn the outrageous threats aimed at Lennon.

    That said... what must Peter Lawell and the Board think when their 'face of the club' is yet again on the back pages in a way that does not really typify the image of a true professional. Lets be clear, Lennon is paid a fortune for his professional services both on and off the park and his employers have the right to expect that includes 'conduct becoming' a manager of a prestigious business. That's the standard you and I are held to. Just think, the thing your are working on at work tomorrow goes pear shaped and you go into the canteen and boot the coffee machine.... I guess you and I would be on the way to the door. The only person who will get Neil Lennon the sack is Neil Lennon I'm afraid as both sides of the OF really don't give a tinkers for what fans think about such issues.

    Shame really because I think he has the makings of a decent coach but 'manager' is probably not in his make up.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hard8, you don't think Lennon looks well. Can you think of any reasons for that other than the job itself? And you think he's used a lot of dirty tricks and spread a lot of poison? Absolute nonsense.

    And I've never heard of a club manager being criticised for his facial expressions before.

    He's assembled a young team, most of whom hadn't met before the start of the season, after he'd been left next to nothing by his predecessor. His thrown-together, new, young team, until last night, looked like pipping Walter Smith's experienced, threadbare, getting-on-a-bit squad to the title. Sounds about right for a manager in his first year. And at least three of the players he's bought are now worth much more than he bought them for.

  • Comment number 19.

    I hope Lennon succeeds, his treatment has been shameful, but he needs to grow up now and not get riled, that will make his enemies even more frustrated, sadly we are not in England where Ferguson and Vengar have done a lot worse, we are in Scotland, where most things Irish seem to be despised because ignorance intolerance and sectarianism have been accepted and even promoted by Scotland’s establishment for centuries, where Hibernian had to deny their Irish roots and Dundee united change their name!

    Yes and I’m Scottish and non RC but I can admit it and see it if you can’t your blind.

  • Comment number 20.

    markrp, to your first question, I'm sure there a lot of reasons for it. Some people are suited to the pressures of such a job and I don't think Neil Lennon is as he's far too confrontational. To your second question, it's far from nonsense. The pressure on the referees is calculated, the players looking for penalties is calculated. There has been a lot of unsporting behaviour from CFC encouraged largely by NL. Tactics adopted successfully by many other managers that get criticised I might add. It's a win at all cost mentality that I don't like, it lacks dignity.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    The 'theatre' around NL has actually been helpful in disguising a proper discussion of the football at Celtic this past year.

    Veering towards echoing some of Uriah's #17's comments in many ways: yes the team is developing but its far too one-dimensional most of the time, and when put off its passing stride like last night (or at Motherwell recently and against Rangers in the LC final) lacks the ability to mix it, adapt and get a result. Big squad, lots of money spent on players no one sees (or wants to see) like Juarez, Murphy and Ljunberg (wages) but critically still looks fragile on the few big occasions they've had this season and lacking in leadership on the park. To me while NL invariably gives an honest assessment of the team's weaknesses, it still appears as if he is an external observer of these events and not able to influence them as the 'manager'. You shudder to think what would have happened if Kris Commons hadn't come in January.

    How McCourt (the 'impact' player who invariably never makes any 'impact at all) and Samaras (utterly inept) got new contracts at the club is simply beyond me. I can only hope that these players are in a long list (including O'Dea, Hooiveld) that they are able to move on. The wage bill must be horrendous for the lack of obvious depth and quality at the club, particualrly in the defence and their 'midget' attacking duo. I'm unsure how they will fare in whatever level of European football they will face in July/ August but the signs are not promising.

    The team that wins the league is generally that which takes their chances over the course of a season. Celtic have had plenty of them.

    And Uriah #17 you must really now fancy your team's chances in the Cup Final?!

  • Comment number 23.

    Hard8 wrote:
    There has been a lot of unsporting behaviour from CFC encouraged largely by NL. Tactics adopted successfully by many other managers that get criticised I might add. It's a win at all cost mentality that I don't like, it lacks dignity.

    I completely agree on the fact that the dignity in today’s professional game has sunk to an all time low, but putting the blame on Lennon in Scotland is a bit far fetched. He is not the only culprit in the SPL and even WS admitted to that fact when he stated it evens itself out over a season. I think the point that CFC have been making is the critical times during a game or a season when it happens not the amount of times during a season like WS states. The problem we have as in many sports is the stakes are now so economically high and the officials seem to have the ability to make decisions that impact the financial future of clubs without any repercussions to them. La Liga, Champs League, EPL, which I believe has the biggest DIVING and officiating issues (look at the Chelsea v Spurs game last weekend as an example and the Nani goal against Arsenal this year), all in the same boat with less than stellar officiating that impacts clubs, managers and players futures.

    Yes, the players now feel as though they need to roll around holding up their hands faking a card to the ref to try and influence a decision. But I do not recall under the NL management system players MOBBING and holding referees arms away from their pockets to try and deny a card being produced as Madjid Bougherra did this year with ZERO additional repercussions from the SFA, even more surprising was the lack of RFC taking the player to task publicly for embarrassing the club. In such a fashion

  • Comment number 24.

    Lennon needs to get on with what he's supposed to be doing, and stop portraying himself as some kind of victim everybody is conspiring against. His displays of touchline tantrums and ill temper have a negative effect on the players and I can't see the Celtic board letting the situation continue, whatever the results.

  • Comment number 25.

    Keep the faith ? .... when his team were knocked out of Europe by Braga and Utrecht, no wonder they are ranked 53rd in Europe.

    Finishing 2nd in a two horse race in the SPL

    Lennon is a loser

  • Comment number 26.

    Rob04 - 40 years of experience tells me not to count chickens. If fact we might cave in simply to avoid Craigie and Erchie upping their claim!!!

    Usual story - us at our very best and Celtic taking it for granted and we could sneak it but the form book suggests it will be a tough afternoon. However top six and two good cup runs - good season either way

  • Comment number 27.

    @25 - you still here?

  • Comment number 28.

    Jim, Finishing in the top 2 is absolutely no achievement for an OF manager with the resources they have. I could get Rangers or Celtic into 2nd place. Rookie or not it matters not. Please write about something more interesting.

  • Comment number 29.

    hahaha

    I can't believe you mentioned Jose Mourinho in an article about Lennon

    Mentioning in the same breath as Walter Smith is barely credible

  • Comment number 30.

    #26

    Take your point. But it can't be a mystery how to stop them: put pace on the right to shackle Izzy, press the centre to stop Ki and hope Celtic play the midget duo of Hooper and Stokes who will be starved of any service, and play Sutton to bully the centre backs. Easier said than done but the 'invincibles' tag can surely be laughed at for the rubbish it was.

    Still such a fragile team when it matters most. I think Commons is a major reason for Celtic still being in the title race and covered up a lot of the cracks in the team. I've listened to lots of my fellow Celtic fans tell me that Rangers wouldn't last the pace because of their prolonged European involvement, that a 41 year old Davie Weir really was finished and that Rangers had too many injuries to cope. I don't think against this backdrop and the large size of the Celtic squad, its a damming inditement of Lennon's tenure but its close enough to be a cause for real concern should Rangers take the title. And the unsavoury theatre might help save Lennon's job this season whatever he wins or loses but it almost certainly won't if he loses the title next season to McCoist.

  • Comment number 31.

    #25 That'll be Braga who last night reached the Europa League Final beating Benfica?

  • Comment number 32.

    #30 Rob04
    I agree that Lennon picked the wrong team on Wednesday night,he should have started with Samaras & Murphy or at least one of them.He will also have known about the pitch and the tactics required but he couldn't have foreseen that Izzy would pick that game to have his worst display of the season or that Mulgrew would,yet again, fail to concentrate,or "Big Danny" would fail to head clear leading to 2 goals.
    Brown was posted missing, I don't think he's fit,Maloney should never have started,and while I take the point about Commons and his goals he contributed little other than that.
    I do feel that McCourt would have had a bigger impact had he been started ashis running at teams always gives a chance of an end product.

    The biggest failing though was the lack of fight coupled with a lack of nous that should have had Celtic thinking of not losing the game if they couldn't win it.

    Still think that Lennon is on the right road,not his fault that we have a load of players who need to be offloaded, 2 central defenders, a big strong striker and we'll not be too far away.

  • Comment number 33.

    to 28 madjockmcferson

    Open to suggestions Madjock as to what you might deem more interesting.

    You'll see from my blog a few weeks ago that I tackled the very subject of how we judge an OF manager and whether they could win a title with a team outside of the big two.

    However, Since there are no guarantees in any walk of life that anyone can do anything at any given time, I stand by my point that Lennon has done "Not Bad for a Rookie Manager"

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 Jim Spence

    As Neil Lennon didn't appear in time for a tv interview on Wednesday I listened to your dulcet tones on Radio Scotland.
    Good interview both questions and answers.

  • Comment number 35.

    Damning with faint praise to claim that Neil Lennon has done "not bad for a rookie manager".

    Regardless of how the remainder of the season pans out, Neil Lennon has not done badly even for a Celtic manager (regardless of standing).

    To do WELL, he would have to lead his team to the league title; to do badly, the team would have to finish outside the top three (or, to some OF fans, the top two).

    To finish second would be no disgrace or calamity, but there is still all to play for - admittedly, even three 10-0 wins would be insufficient if Rangers can muster even 1-0 in each of their remaining games, but it seems unlikely that neither half of the Old Firm will not drop a point in the run-in.

  • Comment number 36.

    I don't think the celtic fans are quite on his back yet. If we lose the league then there will be many fans calling for him to be sacked.

    But i hope they remember, Lennon in his first year of management has started off the fringe of the Tony Mowbray year which was a horrible year to be a celtic fan with frankly rubbish players who were rightly sold. He has completely transformed the team, made some fantastic singings for a rookie manager. Furthermore, he's did this in the face of hatred from other fans and is still here despite attempted murder because of his job title.

    I always said, give him 2-3 years and then question his management. Fans expecting a title winning team after a year of a new manager and team are deluded. For a rookie manager and team, i think he's done superb and i'll be happy trophy-with or trophy-less.

  • Comment number 37.

    34. At 15:05pm 6th May 2011, morbhoy wrote:
    #33 Jim Spence
    As Neil Lennon didn't appear in time for a tv interview on Wednesday I listened to your dulcet tones on Radio Scotland.
    Good interview both questions and answers.

    Thanks morbhoy. I thought Neil was very frank, open and honest and at the risk of sounding like a big heid the interview does seem to have gone down well.

    That I suspect has more to do with Neil's openess than any great forensic probing on my part.

    I've always believed that if you ask difficult questions with civility and common decency then the vast bulk of people in football respond in the fashion that the Celtic boss did : with courtesy and honesty.

  • Comment number 38.

    Celtic-Rangers, Celtic-Rangers, Celtic-Rangers. It has ALWAYS revolved around the old firm first before anyone else.

  • Comment number 39.

    37. At 16:26pm 6th May 2011, Jim Spence - BBC Sport wrote:

    I've always believed that if you ask difficult questions with civility and common decency then the vast bulk of people in football respond in the fashion that the Celtic boss did : with courtesy and honesty.

    ---

    And not being Chick Young helps.....

  • Comment number 40.

    Jim, The first sentence in your blog says that being in contention for the league is an achievement for a rookie Celtic manager. It isn't an achievement still being in contention. That is the absolute minimum i'd expect from someone who has spent £10m and whatever he has spent on wages. Being in contention against a Rangers team that is skint is a very poor performance. Celtic should be miles clear. The only reason they aren't is because the rest of the teams outside of the OF are so poor that the only games which rally matter are the ones between Celtic and Rangers.

    Anyway, I'm not an OF supporter so the whole thing bores me. I'll recognise a genuinely good OF team....neither of these teams can lay claim to being any good whatsoever.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think he's done well - remember, even Jock Stein had to start somewhere! I was lucky enough to meet Neil Lennon just before he was offered the post, and found him to be a courteous man with a great sense of humour, who talked a lot of sense about football and how he would take things forward. Some sections of the press seem to be using his passion for the game as a weapon against him, but presumably they'll be picking on Ally McCoist next season, as he'll be the new boy!

  • Comment number 42.

    #40.

    I'd expect anyone that spent £10m to at least still be in contention, but the question is: who are you talking about? Celtic spent £8m this season. They also sold £17m worth of players. Taking away the McGeady transfer, Celtic had a net spend of about half a million pounds, including it, they had a net sale of about £9m.

    As for Rangers being skint, their net spend was around £2m and that's excluding the loan fees Bartley, Foster and Diouf. It should also be noted that Rangers/Smith have spent far upwards of £30m these last four seasons.

    Celtic had to build an entire team this season whilst their rivals had but to enhance a very established side. You also say that the only games that matter are the Old Firm games, Celtic have the upper hand in those. So tell me, why should Celtic be miles ahead?

  • Comment number 43.

    Pointless post but nothing else much worth talking about i suppose. Lennon should be dumped given his original remit of winning the league for a longer contract. However the clowns who sent him the death threats and bullets etc have now endeared him to the fans and the boards hands are now tied. He's now here for the long term.

  • Comment number 44.

    I am as the name suggests a diehard hoop, and as much as I love Lenny the man, he is too inexperienced to manage celtic currently, another poster blamed the board for not spending money!! where has he been?? We have spent Between 12-15 million in the last 2 or 3 years and have failed miserably against the worst rangers team iv ever seen, Lennon continued to buy midfielders and forwards and left the useless defence to fend for itself....unfortunately even with some inspired signings Lennon has left the goalkeeping and center defensive failings alone, and right back not good enough either. I dont know who would take over but Bilic for me was the one i wanted after Mowbray left, and still would do the business.

  • Comment number 45.

    What you have to remember is that Lennon has had to rebuild some of the players have let him down all to often though. Celtic had 3 players nominated for player of the year all 3 bought by Lennon he is bound to make mistakes what manager doesnt he has to learn from it to progress. He will know that the defence needs bolstered we need a strong centre half and the forwards need replaced apart from Hooper

  • Comment number 46.

    #32

    Yes but the worry is that not one of them had an okay day when it 'mattered' most. As you say all they had to do as a minimum was avoid defeat. But there is something worryiing about the scale of the defeat to no more than a physically determined team. And had ICT took their chances it could have been 4 or 5, and then would this have been another Mowbray at St Mirren moment? Did ICT get the breaks yes but they also took the bulk of their chances. Celtic didn't create enough, rarely troubled the opposition defence/keeper and just didn't seem to know what to do when a team stood up to them. Painting pretty pictures is fine but Arsenal don't win games that really matter and titles either.

    For me the team lack physicality in defence and attack. Why they gave that 'imposter' Samaras a new contract is astonishing for a forward whose goal tally in the SPL is so chronically poor. Samaras is so poor that they pair two midgets up front. McCourt for me just can't compete physically in the SPL. The lack of investment in central defence as #44 points out is a huge error, particularly if Lennon like Mowbray likes attacking full backs. Their respective styles of team have similarities in this regard.

  • Comment number 47.

    #31
    Ignore him and he might go away.

  • Comment number 48.

    #46

    By the same token, had Celtic taken their chances, they would have been out of sight v ICT.

    Wholeheartedly agree that Celtic are a very 'weak' side.

  • Comment number 49.

    #46

    I don't disagree with most of your post but I do over Samaras & McCourt.
    I accept that he can be the most frustrating player ever but he's also the only one who can play up front alone,he's quick and he always tries,never hiding.
    As for Paddy, his fitness and strength has improved 100% and there always has to be room for someone with his skill.

    The team is far from complete and requires further investment if we are to improve on Lennon's good start.

  • Comment number 50.

    Morbhoy - don't you think that Murphy could play up front on his lonesome? I'd suspect he'd win more in the air than Samaras would and, in half a season's worth of league games, has outscored Sammi by 50%.

    Murphy's workrate > Sammi's IMO. All that we need is a player or two coming forward from midfield who can hit shots from afar to pick up the knockdowns (Commons and Ki, Commons and McCourt, Commons and ??) - it wouldn't even have to be someone that can actually play very well; just that they can hit a decent shot and anticipate the knockdowns. Murphy then has to look for the deflections.

    Lets face, we're far too guilty of over egging the pudding. Get the ball up to Murphy, knockdown/back to Commons etc, shoot, goal/parried/shoot/cleared/whatever - must be better in these games than having six or seven charge forward leaving the back two/three utterly exposed.

  • Comment number 51.

    People complaining about our defense must have been watching another season's football, because so far this season they have 21 clean sheets, with the SPL record being 22, which we could still reach, so the defense are clearly the strong point of our team. The failing is the lack of goalscorers, other than Stokes, Hooper and Commons.

  • Comment number 52.

    #51
    The quality of the SPL oppostion is really poor this season but I've still watched their central defence being bullied to their cost by Adam Rooney, John Sutton and Jelavic. Celtic may have the best defensive record overall but the issue of when they leaked goals and to whom is a problem because it ultimately looks like costing them the league. Playing in the Europa League will be a bigger test.

  • Comment number 53.

    Let us all be honest even Jimmy Kranky (joking apart) would finish either 1st or 2nd in the SPL if he managed any of the OF teams.

    There is no other league in Europe where the gap is so huge between the top two and the others.

    Lennons team will struggle again in Europe because of the poor standard in the SPL (playing Inverness CT , St Johnstone 4 times a season) his team are not playing quality teams.

    Put Lennon is charge of Kilmarnock and would he win the league ...... no chance

  • Comment number 54.

    Do keep up, that was two threads ago.

    HTH :-)

  • Comment number 55.

    #53

    La Liga in Spain is comparable on the point spread.

    Celtic haven't played those teams 4 times in the SPL.

    On the basis of your 'facts' Lennon could win the SPL with Albion Rovers!!



  • Comment number 56.

    #50 Solomon_Pain

    I agree that Murphy could play upfront alone but it would be different as he lacks the pace that Samaras has but he certainly would have been preferrable to Stokes or Hooper against ICT.

    I think we've blown it for this season regarding the SPL,but Lenny can still pick up his first trophy by beating Motherwell in the cup final.

    Perhaps we need to be more positive when it comes to trying to buy players, I don't mean pay way over the odds but sometimes you need to accept paying more than you want for longer term benefit.

    We need 2 big, strong central defenders and a big strong centre forward at least.

  • Comment number 57.

    #50/56

    Think we are all agreed that Stokes/Hooper is not an ideal combination. Samaras may have pace (and good technical ability but for me plays the channel too much and fails to release the ball quick enough. I'm hoping they gave him a 3 year contract with the aim of selling him on.

    League is over really. In hindsight they should have been more positive Morbhoy over Fletcher and McCarthy in particular IMO. But they will have to shed players I suspect over the summer. Its a big squad and with the league gone and no European money this season, I really doubt they can sustain the wages.

  • Comment number 58.

    #57
    Totally agree about trimming the squad - it's somewhat bloated with guys that really shouldn't be first team squad of a top end SPL club.

    Now fair enough if they're all out on loan and we get fees and don't pay wages, but in many cases they are not, we don't and we are (in that order).

    Players at our club should be good enough, not for the SPL, but for the Europa League. That, as a minimum, is the level we should be aiming for. I fear many aren't even up to SPL (top-end) standard.

    Ship them out, free up the wages and pay what's required for what is required.

  • Comment number 59.

    i said at the start of the season out of europe and pipped
    by a bankrupt rangers at the season end,he hasnt a clue
    neither does the celtic board sack all of them!

  • Comment number 60.

    59 - bit harsh but you are right that football is a results business. I still think Celtic have the bones of a decent team but its a building job. All the flak that's heading in their direction (noticeably more from their own fans as the league slips away) is IMO due to the hype and misguided energy across the season. If Celtic (management team) had said its a two year building job, with a new young and inexperienced manager battling it out with a smaller but more experienced Rangers squad the expectations of the very tight race that it is would have been set. Instead the season has been derailed on the back to inattention to the task at hand and too much smart alec stuff re mind games, conspiracy theories etc. In an earlier blog I criticised NL for one thing only... failing to become a consummate professional on and off the park. As a manager he still has 'L' plates on yet he wants to act like Sir Alex. I have much more respect for Jim McIntyre, Derek McInnes etc who acknowledge their learning curve and how they learn every day - these are the guys NL should look to - not the managers with 30 years experience. If he's there next year hopefully he will have the maturity to focus on the job in hand.

    Unfortunately (sorry Celtic fans) I hope (as a Well fan !!!) he also misses out on the Cup.

  • Comment number 61.

    #59
    Rangers do all right for a bankrupt club - £24m in transfers in less than three years, largest transfer fee from the last three seasons, largest net spend in three of the last four years.

    Regarding Lennon not having a clue, if Celtic win their remaining games, they'll have accumulated more points than any Celtic team since Martin O'Neill's last year in charge (92 points also).

    Lennon is well on course to beating any points total achieved by Gordon Strachan and has obviously surpassed, by far, that achieved by Tony Mowbray. A win and a draw for Celtic will see them gain enough points to have won the league in any of the previous 4 seasons.

    Aye, not a clue right enough.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    Neil Lennon, the Johnny Rotten of the SPL has turned the SPL into something worth watching, pre-Lennon all you heard was the quality of Scottish football is @ its lowest ebb ever.
    All the other teams/supporters hate NL, quite an achievement, to pull that off in one season is truly spectacular.
    In an ideal scenario CFC will win the league and NL can finally ‘chill out’, headphones on listening to “twisted fire starter” @ full volume, however in the ‘real world’ pressure will be on the chiefs @ CFC to get rid and let the status quo (no pun intended) prevail.........big mistake hail NL... Scottish football’s very own punk rocker manager.

  • Comment number 64.

    I agree that Celtic need to trim the squad even if it's hard on guys like McGowan & O'Dea and a decision needs to be made on Josh Thomson who is still a very young player.
    Lennon needs to be ruthless and the club needs to back his judgement with the necessary funds.
    I don't think we missed the boat with Steve Fletcher,not worth £4M and doubt he would have made a difference but we certainly did with James McCarthy,all for £2M and possibly Connor Salmon when he was at Killie.

    Whatever happens,the football played overall has been a vast improvement to that endured under the last two managers and the credit for that must go to Neil Lennon. He has performed beyond the expectations of many despite the pressures he's been placed under and will have learned a lot.
    Things will get better and,sorry Uriah, he still has a cup final victory within his grasp although we will miss Kayal & Ledley.

  • Comment number 65.

    This is the bench for tonight game at Hearts - 24 Zaluska, 11 Cha Du-Ri , 25 Rogne, 10 Stokes, 13 Maloney, 27 Murphy, 49 Forrest. Says it all really. If we're chasing the game then you wouldn't back on any of that lot coming up with the goods. Sorry Lenny but get out and stay out.

  • Comment number 66.

    #55

    Lennon has an easy job managing Celtic because as there are only two teams in the SPL of any quality.

    Re your point .... La Liga is ranked only 2nd to the Premier League, whilst the SPL is a lowly ranked at 16th.(even the Turkish league is ranked 11th)

    The teams (Valencia,Villareal,Athletico Madrid ... etc) just behind the world giants in La Liga Barca and Real Madrid,are teams who are far superior to the OF,and way above the others (Hearts,Inverness CT ..etc)who are a poor the quality.

    Celtic and Rangers are ranked 53rd and 31st respectively and last won trophies in Europe in 1967 and and 1972.Wonder why? .... it is based on performance.

    Lennon has a cushy job period in the SPL he has to win matches in Europe to be a success

  • Comment number 67.

    #66

    Leagues with 'similar point spread' between 1st/2nd to 3rd/4th Tom!! Keep up. You raised the issue remember.

    Would a diagram help? Or would a voucher for basic classes at your local college be more useful? Don't confuse this with your local collage, its a completely different thing!

    I'm sure we would all chip in and help!

  • Comment number 68.

    Celtic must certainly keep faith with Lennon now after that disgraceful attack last night on a man who has done nothing other be passionate about his club.
    Compare his treatment to that of Robbie Savage who was booed everywhere he played and was booked more than anyone else but has ended up being respected for his 606 radio work, no one attacked Savage.
    How anyone can boo a man who has received death threats is beyond me.

  • Comment number 69.

    #69

    Unfortunately there are 'passionate' nutter cultures at every club in Scotland Morbhoy and a host of behaviours that are seemingly tolerated only inside football grounds.

    Savage is one comparison. Others might be Gary Neville, Graham Roberts or Graham Souness, and to a lesser extent Derek Riordan who was attacked at Tynecastle only 2 years ago. But a better example might also be Gordon Strachan who I remember being attacked at Parkhead as a player and ended up managing the club!

    Some even want alcohol re-introduced to football grounds. In a season where there has been far more theatre than football they really must be mad.

  • Comment number 70.

    That should have been #68 at #69 of course!

  • Comment number 71.

    #69Rob04
    I wouldn't put Lennon in the same category as Souness or Roberts,Gary Neville perhaps.

    In the light of the further events that have occurred today I would have expected Alex Salmond to show a little more concern in his interview today. He was quick to call for a "summit" after the events at Celtic Park when the problems were restricted to players.

    It's been said that Hearts mounted their biggest security operation of the season,where were the police and the stewards when that clown leaped the barrier?
    It would be a shame if Tynecastles biggest asset, the atmosphere, was lost because of this but I think Hearts could be in big trouble.

    I also hope all those Hearts "fans" who booed Lennon before the match and cheered when he was attacked are proud of themselves.

    If this is what football has come to in Scotland it's time it was abolished.

  • Comment number 72.

    #69,

    There is a certain grim irony in all this morbhoy. There is a lot of rumour afloat that the Celtic board were minded to let Lennon go. Rightly or wrongly they could have pinned this decision on failure to win the title.

    Given everything that Lennon has suffered recently it would be heartless in the extreme to go down that road. The board would be slaughtered by public opinion, especially should Lennon still wish to stay.

    Either way the disgraceful actions of these morons - let's not beat about the bush - terrorists cannot be seen to have had any effect. Should Lennon feel unable to continue, or the board unable to let him go then the irony arises.

    I am concerned at any perception that this is solely a football problem. Sectarianism is societies problem. i.e. All of us. We must stamp it out for good.

  • Comment number 73.

    Sorry, #68.

  • Comment number 74.

    #72

    They should be fined according to whatever precedents are already there of course they should Morbhoy. Not sure anyone would disagree with that.

    I do have some sympathy with them as a club, as I would for any club in in a similar situation: how do you actually stop a determined individual taking a chance in a blink of an eye from getting on a park to get at a player/ manager? Even in our better policed football world there are just times that stewarding does not and will not work: the attack on Ricksen at Pittodrie, Riordan at Tynecastle, that eejit who got on at Parkhead against AC Milan with their goalkeeper Dida (?). An idiot only has to get lucky once. But you can't legislate for everything all the time unless we want our football behind closed doors.

  • Comment number 75.

    This has to be the perfect ending to an atrocious season which has seen a truly breath taking number of bad headlines. The attack last night on Lennon was terrible and an embarrassment to Scottish football.

    Picking up on #72s comment about sectarianism, lets get something straight, football might not be responsible for sectarianism but there is no doubt it reinforces it. The majority of idiots who engage in sectarian activities, be it chanting or violence are not religous or educated. They do it because they're sheep following the crowd and because they percieve the 'other people' to be different. The Old Firm reinforce these differences. Sectarianism in the west coast wouldn't be anything like it is if both Celtic and Rangers did not exist.

    And speaking of the old firm lets call a spade a spade because I don't hear it enough. Rangers inparticular seem to have a problem and there is an ugly culture there. The facts speak for themselves, whether its riots or Manchester or singing in Europe. At least their conduct has ruled them out of ever joining the EPL - could you imagine!!

    On the wider front managers have to start taking responsibility for their actions. Neil Lennon doesn't deserve to be assaulted nor threatened but he needs to grow up or accept he isn't fit to manage in the public eye. His own behaviour has at times been despicable. I also lost respect for Jim Jeffries last night when he blamed the ref! Come on! Questionable referee decisions are a fact of football. Don't excuse the sort of behaviour we saw last night. These kind of comments set a horrible example to wider society and to children in particular.

    The SPL needs to get a lot of tougher with enforcing standards of behaviour. Send players off if they swear at a ref and fine them. Discipline starts on the park and clubs have to accept this too.

    #71 there'll be a lot of people on here who won't take your final comment - 'abolish football' seriously but I think wider society is begining to get sick of the bad news...

  • Comment number 76.

    Lennon will not be considered a success unless he wins matches in Europe .... the OFs holy grail.The root cause of the problem is playing poor teams each week the SPL so his benchmark is low and the standard drops.

    Anyone manager (even Craig Brown) would win the SPL if they managed an OF team

    He is however a hero for the the courage he displays from idiots who shame Scottish football

  • Comment number 77.

    I'll be honest he dose not deserve anything right now, the title will stay at ibrox, but i wouldnt say it was wrong he got attacked IF your team scores an you throw your have up INFRONT of a home crowed and celebrate your goin throw salt in a wound an get even more abuse, this mans attitude total stinks he has a very very bad temper and a very very small fuse, He may be celtic throught an through but theres a win and a loose, managers should not be alowed to go on the pitch, after a game they should shake hands or just about turn an go up the tunnel. Celtic fans are very quick to forget but remember when hugh dalls was hit with a coin...( celtic fans) 4 celtic fans ran onto the pitch to attack hugh dallas ( celtic fans ), when Ac Milan were in glasgow there keeper was attacked by a celtic fan im sure the list could go on here but very quick to forget they have brought shame to football aswell not just rangers.

  • Comment number 78.

    #75
    re Lennon's behaviour. What behaviour? Questioning refereeing decisions? Is that what you're talking about?

    From your own post, you say that Jefferies has placed blame for the events on the match officials. Now what's more inflammatory - questioning the match officials decisions (bearing in minds that at least one lied to Lennon and his own supervisor this season) or actually laying the blame for an alleged assault at the feet of someone who had nothing to do with it?

    But maybe it's not that, perhaps it's Lennon cupping his hands to his ears in defiance of thousands of the cerebrally challenged chanting "What's it like to live in fear" for 90 minutes?

    Perhaps ultimately it's just that, unlike many of his cultural predecessors, Lennon will not bow his head and meekly accept being treated as second class.

  • Comment number 79.

    #72

    Its a problem, no longer about religion but about the wider tribal cultures of which religion is only a small part, and for people who like to pass on 'their traditions'. Football used to thought of as an outlet for it - a get it out of your system for 90 minutes on a Saturday - but its naive to think of it as anything other than a promotional vehicle for these cultures as #75 suggests.

    Its far too easy to say that we should all respect our 'imagined' differences (because that is what they really are if there are no objective segregated ones left to much bother with) but in reality there are some who just don't/won't/can't and like the 'triumph' over the other one on the park because it reinforces the existing 'moral' one they already have in their heads. In football there is no doubt that the tribal 'songs' are art and part of how these cultural differences are maintained. But I've ran into enough people who are very uncomfotable with what some of their fellow fans belt out to know that not everyone gets it or wants it and that some just really like the football.

    Perhaps its time in this climate to look at a Code of Conduct for fans: for what is appropriate and for what is not, and would get you rightly arrested in any other situation. And stamp it out in football grounds before someone else comes in from outside and tells us the bloody obvious.

  • Comment number 80.

    #72/74
    I didn't intend to imply that Hearts should be punished more severely than any other club in similar circumstances and I agree that you can't always legislate for idiots.
    However,it's reported that the club mounted their biggest security operation of the season with double the normal number of police and 25% more stewards on duty which begs the question, where were they?
    I suspect that the majority were employed at the Celtic "end".
    I accept that the layout at Tynecastle is difficult to police but there was a disturbing lack of stewards/police in front of the main stand.
    I have no desire to see Hearts, as a club,get into more trouble than is required under the rules but I do worry about this incident following on from the others quoted.

    I also agree totally that sectarianism is societys' problem but the authorities are no nearer eradicating it now than they were 30 or even 50 years ago and football has to be wary that politicians and others don't use it as the vehicle to solve the problem.
    A lack of religion rather than religion is the cause of this in my opinion and I agree that a large number merely follow "tradition".

    I have to question the continuing assertion that sectarianism is a "West of Scotland" issue, it is not confined to that part of the country otherwise why would Neil Lennon, in his playing days as well as now, be subject to abuse at grounds all over Scotland?

    I would like one of his abusers to tell us what he has done to deserve this appalling treatment. Before the last OF game at Ibrox SKY had interviews with lots of fans from both sides and to a man all Rangers supporters deplored the threats to Lennon and wanted them to stop.
    Where were they before/during/after the game when the level of abuse directed towards him was worse than ever?

    It's one thing to get caught up in the emotion of the moment but that's just hypocritical.

    Sorry to go on but if this doesn't get sorted once and for all we won't need to worry about SPL reorganisation.

  • Comment number 81.

    Lenny must stay.

    His signings have been great.
    His young team plays a brand of football that at times is the best since the days of Lubo and Henke.
    He will have learned from some of the more naive tactics in Europe.
    He and his team will also gave learned just how consistent you need to be to win things.
    Under Lenny, Celtic will only be better next term.

    All that I can see he has done wrong is upset a few holy wullies (remember the apparently sainted Ally McCoist is no angel, and should have been rightly done for his antics in the night of shame too, but for the hopeless biaSFA), and I couldn't care less about them or thier media lackeys (be it SDM lapdogs or Rangers Cheerleaders).

    Neil's actions, on occasion, warrant some criticism, he has admitted as much himself, but the level of abuse he has taken, vieled and otherwise, has been completely OTT, and those guilty of it should take a long hard look at themselves for their part in it, however small, in validating what has ultimately led to recent events.

    In footballing terms, Lenny has done enough for me. We will continue to impriove under his leadership. That is all that should matter.

    The fact it apparently doesn't is Scotland's shame.

 

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