After four games in charge at Celtic, Neil Lennon will be glad of the international break. It’s been a bizarre year for the former club captain.
First came the unusual and protracted departure as Hibs manager at the end of January. Then, less than a month later, he is back at Celtic.
It’s probably one of the most swift and seamless managerial transitions at Celtic in the modern-day. Yes, people were shocked and even angry at Brendan Rodgers leaving, but the club found themselves with an instant solution.
You would be forgiven for thinking that they already knew this was all coming. Some people even claimed well in advance that Brendan Rodgers could have been gone in January.
Fact or fiction? Well it certainly seems entirely likely now.
It appears somewhat convenient. Don’t expect the truth to come out though.
Right now, Neil Lennon has a job to complete on behalf of the club. After a whirlwind start to his second spell as interim head coach, he’ll be taking a bit of a breather to assess the games ahead for Celtic.
It’s been three wins and one draw since his first game at the end of February. Zero defeats and just one goal conceded.
At the weekend, Celtic took advantage of the Premiership stalemates in the top four and extended their lead in the league to ten points. It didn’t come easily though and it very nearly didn’t happen at all.
The Bhoys made heavy weather of things for the second week in a row. “Turgid” was the post-match buzz word.
Neil Lennon has stated that he intends to change Celtic’s style of play. I don’t know if that means before the end of the season or if the gets the job permanently – unless it is his already.
You would have to assume then that so far, he has not attempted to upset that balance too much. It’s not as if Celtic were playing poorly before Lennon arrived so keeping that momentum without altering the way that the team play would be understandable.
However, if Neil does plan to change it, he’ll need time for it to evolve. The winning formula was broken against Aberdeen and it was looking like it was going the same way against Dundee.
That was until Odsonne Edouard delivered a winning goal in the 96th minute. More importantly, Celtic are still unbeaten domestically game in 2019.
And of course, the time added on caused all manner of debate amongst rival fans and the pundits. The negative reaction to Celtic Football Club’s ongoing domination is becoming palpable.
The added time at Dens Park sparked fury with people of a certain persuasion. The reaction was over the top by many, yet if you are on the losing side, it is understandable to be disappointed in losing.
I don’t need to justify the six minutes that were added on. Others have covered this already and it is spot on.
If you’d successfully put up a gritty defence for over ninety minutes, only to lose at the death, any manager, player or fan would be unhappy. The Dundee manager was the first to air his opinion that he couldn’t fathom where the official had got those six minutes from.
He went further by saying that they “never get six minutes” when they need it. Talk about spitting the dummy out.
Of course, many have also pointed out that Jim McIntyre has a short memory. So short that he can’t remember the month of February when at 2-2 against Kilmarnock, the match went into 96 minutes at Dens Park.
Funnily enough, Dundee had a chance to win that one at the death. But Mr Kenneth Miller missed a spot kick with virtually the last kick of the ball.
I’d suggest that Dundee have had six minutes when they needed it and blew it. Mr McIntyre should review his statement because there’s nothing strange about the six minutes as they were justified by the laws of game.
There’s nobody to blame. Not even the Ibrox loving officials on the day.
Furthermore, when time is added on, is it not for both teams? The same situation you faced in February only, you failed to score the winner.
As it was, Sunday’s game actually went into the 98th minute. McIntyre himself chose to use that added time to make a third substitution in the 94th minute, thus lengthening the overall game time again.
His side also had a chance to score moments before that. Would he have felt the time was unjustified had his team pulled off a winner?
The entire matter is a non-story. Play until the whistle blows, Jim.
Perhaps the significance of this ten point lead is too much for some to bear. Especially across the city.
Whilst Celtic have had their season disrupted by last summer’s drama and the sharp exit of a dominating manager last month, they fight on to that final whistle. That spirit, no matter how poorly they play in our eyes, is what wins you titles and trophies.
Once other teams possess what we have, we can have a serious chat. Until then dry your eyes and get your own house in order.
Celtic are in a state of flux and trying to steer themselves toward an eighth successive title with a different manager. Now the international break is here, Neil Lennon and his backroom team have some thinking to do.
Change things or play the same way? How much impact Neil has had so far is unknown.
He has obviously leaned heavily on John Kennedy. What is unclear is how much he has altered things, if at all.
Against Hearts and Hibs Celtic played well and upon returning to Celtic Park we expected more of the same. That never came to pass and Neil even said the players were mentally exhausted.
Why, I don’t know? Because of Brendan’s departure or because too much was being asked of them?
I’d love to know. I really would.
As much as international breaks can be an annoyance, I think this one is timely. Some serious thought and planning must go into the remaining games.
The next match is against Rangers at Celtic Park. The coaching team must be focussed on winning that one.
I still wonder though, was this transition longer in the works than disclosed or just fortunate timing? I guess we’ll find out when the permanent manager is announced.