An opportunity lost that ended with shameful acts

Neil Lennon’s chance to show that he could turn this season around was yesterday. It would now appear that he and his back room team are out of ideas.

Many will say that Neil should have gone long before now. As far back as the Champions League defeat by Ferencvaros in fact.

The truth is, back then it was our first defeat of the season. To call time on a man who has given so much to this club at that stage of the season would have been ludicrous.

Saying I told you so doesn’t justify it given his overall record at the club either. Exiting the Champions League was a huge blow and the manner in which it occurred was no better, but even his predecessors shared the same disappointment in recent years.

His next defeat, the Glasgow derby, didn’t come for another seven-and-a-half weeks. It was the beginning of a poor run of results in all competitions though.

Ultimately, this has been when the real pressure mounted. The team hadn’t been playing to their fullest potential all season, but from that stage onwards things were becoming more and more difficult with every passing game.

I still can’t quantify where it has gone wrong. I am of the opinion though that it isn’t just down to one thing.

There must be a combination of factors at play. The trouble is we appear to be out of ideas and out of time.

If Neil goes into next weekend’s match at home to St Johnstone and gets anything less than a win, the club will have forfeited another game in which to turn things around. The cup game with Ross County was an opportunity for the players to protect a four year crown and show that they were up for the fight to close the gap on top spot in the weeks that followed.

Once again, we saw a Celtic team at home with the majority of possession, unable to break down a side who have only managed three wins all season. Mistakes at the back, opportunities missing up front and no creativity in the middle.

In his post match interview, Lennon pointed out that he may have to change things, if he got the opportunity to do so. He also mentioned that he was using systems that had been in place for three or four years.

Neil then went on to explain the mistakes as of the game which has become a regular feature of late. Yet, we haven’t improved in those areas all season.

I’m curious about what changes Neil Lennon can make at this stage. Should he not have changed things already?

We’re now at the stage where we need a fresh start. I was happy for Neil to persevere, but so far he hasn’t got a response from the players and we’ve been in this zone for several weeks now.

Now we run the risk of throwing away 10IAR as we have the Champions League, Europa League and League Cup. My only concern about changing things now is whether it is even possible for someone new to come in and rescue our season.

I genuinely feel sorry for Neil because he has been a fantastic and passionate servant to the club. He came in and steered the ship home when Brendan Rodgers was dazzled by the bright lights of Leicester City.

I’m not convinced the club will have a back up plan in place and I think the club will allow Neil to continue in his role. They didn’t appear to have any other candidates when they offered Neil the job in the dressing room at Hampden in May 2019.

In the season that followed, Neil took us to 9IAR, another League Cup and we’re in another Scottish Cup Final. We had a false start in Europe but he made up for it in the Europa League.

This season has been a failure on all fronts. We have completely dropped the ball.

Even although 10IAR is still possible, it is hard to entrust that task with Neil Lennon any longer. I get the impression though that the club will continue to stand by him despite any evidence of an improvement in Sunday’s display let alone the result.

It doesn’t just come down to one man though. There is a coaching team working alongside him too.

Yesterday he even touched on the fact they are using systems used under his predecessor. However, he has a team of talented individuals who are capable of so much more than they have given this season and if nobody in the back room staff or indeed the team can motivate them then we are even more trouble than we think.

You can’t sack the team. You can only sack the coaching staff.

If the club were to part company with Neil now, I don’t think we would be any further forward putting John Kennedy becasue he’s been involved in first team matters for some time now. Should these deployed systems Neil mentioned in this post match interview are such an issue then I can’t understand why they are still in use.

I understood when he was interim boss he didn’t really make any changes. Surely when you are appointed as permanent manager you introduce your own style though?

Of course, maybe this is all just nonsense. As I said earlier, I think there is more than one issue here.

In the midst of what was supposed to be a historic season, we are now near to a point of no return. It wasn’t supposed to be this way and we appeared to be set up, albeit without fans, for 10IAR.

The saddest and perhaps most appalling thing about all of this were the ugly scenes outside Celtic Park yesterday. I cannot believe what Neil Lennon and the players were subjected to.

Those who attended and abused Celtic personnel are not supporters in my opinion. They may pay their money and be unhappy about the current predicament, but this is not the way to conduct yourself as a Celtic supporter.

I have already condemned the Green Brigade for airing our dirty laundry in public last week with their banner. Yesterday’s chaos has brought the club down to a new low.

This type of act does nothing to resolve anything. It only worsens matters.

I can’t think of a previous Celtic manager or group of players that have received such a torrent of abuse. It’s embarrassing that it has happened to a group of professionals who have delivered so much for our club.

These are the type of “fans” who act without thought of the consequences. Who bring shame upon our club and bring sanctions and fines from the authorities.

We’re all angry, frustrated and want to see things remedied. This is not the way to do it though.

You’d think the Kelly’s were back at Celtic Park or that Tony Mowbray was given a five year contract. Even the latter didn’t get this level of abuse and his failure carried on until late March that season.

Whatever happens this week, do us all a favour and stay away from the stadium and the training ground. Fan opinion is valid, threatening and abusive behaviour is not.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac