First and foremost I must say I am disappointed and it’s not a day I expected this soon. I know there are some Celtic fans that will be more accepting of Neil Lennon’s resignation than I, but Gordon Strachan experienced a worse case so he can be thankful for that I suppose.
I was fairly adamant (as others were) that Lennon would not follow Johan Mjallby out the door this summer. The rumours were plentiful as they always are regarding Celtic, but I feel his departure is somewhat premature.
As my English friends and colleagues often like to tell me, “there just isn’t the competition up there is there?” Well thanks for your insightful analysis, but your opinion doesn’t count when we are discussing a league you know nothing about let alone watch.
We who do follow the Scottish game do know the state it is in and don’t need reminding by those who don’t. Every week we subject ourselves to it and we know it is below par.
The point I am making is that nobody in Scotland is blind to the reality that Scottish football has a glass ceiling for your career. There is an acceptance that at some stage or another, anyone whose profile becomes of significant interest is likely to move on, be it player or coach.
Neil was sure to move on at some point that much we knew. I just didn’t expect it to be now.
I don’t think the club will suffer through his departure though. I think they will progress, but they have Neil Lennon to thank for that because he brought Celtic back into the game after his predecessors abysmal failure.
However, I feel Neil still had some progress of his own to make as Celtic Head Coach before moving on. There is a desire by most players and managers to move south because potentially it’s the furthest you can go in the game without actually leaving the shores of the UK right now.
Players and managers before Lennon have made this move, successfully or unsuccessfully. That rich vein that flows south will continue unless there is a set up that can retain its best right there in Scotland.
On the positive side I can say this; Neil Lennon did bring back some thunder to Celtic Park. As a rookie, he made his own team and with little money.
There were good buys and there were bad buys. Trophies and titles have been claimed and European nights have been lived once more.
It’s the end of a four year journey for Neil which began just as his Mowbray’s ended. It was a difficult transition but Lennon rose to the challenge.
He beat off the opposition, the budget restrictions, inexperience in management, the death threats, violence and the parcel bombs. Having beaten all of that, he has emerged an outright winner.
In his personal life he battled depression and that alone is a complex task which very few can even begin to comprehend. Now he moves on and to a new phase of his life and career.
Whether he takes a break from football or goes straight back into the game we will have to wait and see. There are many jobs out there right now but it remains to be seen whether any of them are for him.
What he can do is walk away from Scotland knowing full well that he is a winner. To endure what he has had to endure in his time as a player and coach at Celtic cannot be applauded enough.
For those of you who were consumed with a hatred for Neil Lennon, you have been defeated. He has shown you for what you are, seen all of you off and then some.
In a year that could see Scotland voted as an independent country, I hope that its inhabitants can learn from the ill-treatment Neil Lennon has received. That they can show greater respect to those people, who come to Scotland and make it a better place by not being beaten by the bigotry and hatred they receive.
There’s only one Neil Lennon. Legend.