Three games, two defeats and one draw. On the back of a season which has so far yielded a third successive early Champions League exit and a lack of consistency, there is disharmony amongst the Celtic support.
Questions have been asked why out of nowhere, Celtic’s fortunes this season have take a dip. Nobody has been able to provide a reason as to why that is either.
Our team has been, by and large, retained from last season which was cut short by Covid-19. On top of that we spent almost £15M on three players not to mention three additional players on loan.
The new players have had mixed fortunes. We’ll only know their true value by season’s end.
Back in September, Neil Lennon stated that he was open to a sports psychologist if it offered the team another edge. That was more in relation to the Champions League exit than the squad’s actual form.
It’s hard to say what sort of impact this has had at Lennoxtown. There has been no further comment or insight as to how this psychologist was utilised, if at all.
We can speculate, as many have, all without evidence as to what the root cause of Celtic’s performance issues have been, but that doesn’t help. Speculation has become the fuel for some supporters to state that our current manager, Neil Lennon, is not fit for the job and he should go.
Let me just state my own thoughts on this if it means anything to you. I’ve been very critical of Neil Lennon’s formations and team selections this season, but no more than I would be of any manager in the job.
No person is bigger than the club. I’ll openly criticise anyone who takes the big seat.
I’m not alone in this and by no means a tactical or UEFA Pro Licence coach either. I just call it as I see it and people watching Celtic matches on TV or in the commentary boxes of BT Sport or wherever have been of the same opinion that the tactical deployment of recent line-ups wasn’t working.
So at some point you have to say, they all can’t be wrong. During the last three games, Neil finally changed it mid-way through the second game (Milan) which of course did make a difference albeit still losing in the end.
The formation he switched to in that game was similar to the one he started with in the next game (Aberdeen) though perhaps not quite as effective with the personnel selection. However, having looked at the line-up before the match at Pittodrie kicked off, I didn’t disagree with it.
Mistakes in this game were Celtic’s undoing, but they showed resolve to draw level twice. They even took the lead for the first time since the St Johnstone game three weeks earlier only to succumb to another mistake which culminated in a 3-3 draw.
Rather than praise the character shown to claw it back twice and then take the lead, the focus was centred on surrendering that lead. It should be noted that Aberdeen had the lead twice themselves.
In another time, when our form may have been better, I genuinely believe that this game would have been given more praise for it’s entertainment value. That doesn’t excuse the mistakes that allowed two penalty kicks against us, but I think we have to take a breath here.
A while back there was talk about the lack of fans being an issue. I don’t excuse that for a second.
It’s valid because our fans make a lot of noise home and away be it Livingston or Lazio. However, we can’t dine on that for the simple reason that every other team is in the same situation right now.
We all know how much our fans add to the atmosphere. That is something we just have to get on without though.
For me it is more pertinent to mention the back-to-back bad luck we’ve experienced. From Bolingoli to match postponements and from Covid-19 to injuries or even the Champions League exit.
As good a squad as we have, we have had a helluva lot of disruption too. Throw into that Neil Lennon’s chopping and changing the team and you have a real problem trying to achieve any consistency.
Those are the true symptoms whilst evading anything that is being speculated about online. Such as he’s lost the dressing room or the French guys aren’t up for it any more.
We shouldn’t be doing this to ourselves, especially when 10IAR is still very much a real thing. There is a lot of work to do, errors to stamp out and our squad to get back to full strength.
Lets not contribute to the pressure our team is under to deliver history though. If there is to be a time when the manager’s role is to be evaluated, it isn’t now.
The game against Lille tomorrow night may not bring a desired result, but I’m discounting that from the job at hand. Aberdeen in the cup this Sunday is more important.
Then it’s Sparta Prague next Thursday which again isn’t as important as the league game that follows. That match in particular, away to Motherwell, will be our first league match in two weeks and by then we will know the size of the task.
We will have banked another game at hand, possibly nine points behind and even down to third position. Our position will depend on the result between Hibs and Aberdeen two days earlier.
After Motherwell we’ll have a midweek break for the first time since early August, if you count international duty. The next game is also away, this time to Hibs.
Our European matches must play second fiddle right now. Every league game is about getting our season in order and putting pressure under the current leaders.
I think we also have to put matters in perspective. I still don’t believe we need to begin ringing alarm bells.
There’s a lot of influence out there pushing people into a mind set that Lennon is done. It’s a cancer and it does us no good whatsoever.
Just because we haven’t had the best opening to the season doesn’t mean we won’t finish it better. It was mentioned by someone the other day that we are two points worse off now than at the same stage last season.
I know that isn’t what we’d like, but is it seriously game over in some of your heads? Folk are reading into Neil Lennon’s body language like he’s lost cause and has practically chucked it.
That’s not the Neil Lennon I know. This guy has been through some shit and then some.
Depression, death threats, bombs to his house, physical abuse from fans both in and outside the football arena. Do you honestly think he is going to sever ties based on the fact we’re six points behind with a game at hand in October?
Have a word with yourselves. I mean it’s gotten that ridiculous out there that I’ve even found myself agreeing with Tom English!
You know things have gotten out of hand when he pipes up and speaks some sense. He’s had plenty of moments when he’s pushing other people’s buttons, but he isn’t wrong on this occasion.
Neither is Kenny Dalglish, Chris Sutton or dare I say it Andy Walker. Those who have laid into Lennon are generally guys who don’t have any support from our own fanbase and on a list of pundits we have zero time for.
Up until the defeat on home soil in the Glasgow derby, Celtic had only drawn once in the Scottish Premiership. Now they’ve had a an additional draw on top of that, but the story doesn’t end there.
So here it is. Celtic need to string some results together.
This season has a long way to go. We haven’t even begun to have our say so keep the faith.