Left field is the way forward

After identifying a list of candidate’s Celtic have finally appointed their new manager. The choice came from left field and is a reminder to everyone out there that the media (and the bookies for that matter) know nothing.

Some sports journalists will tell you that Ronny Deila has left Celtic fans underwhelmed. This phrase has been populating virtually every column I’ve read in the mainstream media these past 24hrs.

There had also been the ‘breaking news’ that Celtic can no longer attract top of the line managers. That they must sell their best players to the highest bidder.

Well Scottish football’s decline is not news I’m afraid. Nor are the confines in which Celtic must operate.

Ronny Deila may not have come from the English Premier League or even the Championship. He has earned this job though by demonstrating his attributes and delivering success for Strømsgodset.

I would argue with the opinions of the bitterest of media clowns like Roddy Forsyth and Andy Walker. They simply cannot help themselves by belittling the appointment of someone their vast sporting knowledge failed to identify.

The fact that the new manager has proven himself as a coach and manager for six years appears to be lost on them. Deila’s philosophy on the game of football also being irrelevant in their writings.

Scotland should be rolling out the red carpet for international workers. Especially in an country that wants to be independent.

I’m embarassed that the Scottish media cannot at the very least, hide their bitterness for a wee while. The guy has just arrived and already he’s a poor choice.

Show me a better manager in Scotland right now – no? Then I’ll continue.

It seems more important to the media who Celtic didn’t install as manager than who they did. When they do provide some ‘insight’ on Deila, its to run down his chances.

And lets not leave out the fact that there is no Rangers to play against eh lad’s? Play another record FFS.

The fact that Ronny Deila has a good track record in Norway doesn’t seem to stand for anything. Not being ‘known’ is the only item on the media’s agenda and are willing to include in their articles.

The list of candidates mooted I would argue were not confirmed by Celtic. The only one Peter Lawwell confirmed was in fact Roy Keane.

He may have pulled of the running but he was not offered the job as some like to think. It should also be noted that the grand majority of Celtic fans were not in favour of him as Neil Lennon’s successor, myself included.

From the list of other possible candidates I would say that none have shown themselves to be more successful than Deila even if I would have approved. In fact I would say that other than being ex-Celtic players or having managed in England they are at the on a par with the Norwegian.

To tell you the truth I was pleasantly surprised that the Celtic board were so bold. As I mentioned in my last blog, I wondered if Celtic would go left field and they did.

This guy may be unknown to Scottish media but not to Celtic. The only underwhelming feature of Celtic appointing Ronny Deila is the mainstream media who write about it.

If I were disappointed with this guy, I’d be talking about it right now but I’m not. Cast your mind back five years on MonTheHoops and you’ll read me write about a poor appointment.

I didnt hide my distaste at Tony Mowbray’s appointment. Celtic thought they’d done the right thing, but I didn’t and guess what it turned out to be a catastrophe.

By the time it was too late to recover, Celtic sacked Mowbray and installed Lennon. A rookie, but certainly the only man for the job at that time.

It turned out well and the club are in a position of strength even if Scottish football is not. Now, it is up to Ronny Deila to take the team forward and utilise his managerial skills that got him noticed by the cub in the first place.

I’m genuinely excited about his outlook for the team, particularly the youths who need to know there is a chance for them. In football nothing is certain but this is a story I look forward to seeing unfold.

Welcome Ronny.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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The Legacy of Lennon

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.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

All good things…

I didn’t see last nights match. I was stuck in work until around the final whistle.

The text commentary from friends was all I needed. It didn’t tell the full story of course, but I knew I was in the right place.

The second half of the season is difficult for Celtic right now. Not just this season, but last season as well.

With no serious domestic challenge to dent Neil Lennon’s title chances, the league is almost certainly in the hands of Celtic before Christmas. This isn’t a good thing for Scottish football, its a bad thing and deprives fans as well as players of any motivation.

Now we all know that the game in Scotland has been dominated by Celtic and their former rivals for decades. The only thing that has changed recently is that Celtic are doing it on their own now.

What I had hoped to see in these last two seasons was a couple of teams putting in a serious challenge against Celtic. Given that there is only one club to break so to speak, I felt there was an opportunity to pressure Scotland’s top club.

That hasn’t happened and whilst the league is never decided until it is mathematically impossible, Celtic will be champions once again. Celtic haven’t even been that great this season and yet they achieved some decent landmarks.

I’m not taking away anything from Aberdeen beating Celtic last night. They may have only had ten men to beat but I’ve seen many a team struggle with a one man advantage.

If clubs such as Aberdeen would show more consistency against the rest of the league then there might just be something  worth shouting about. I sense every time a Scottish club gets a Celtic scalp its like throwing stones at the leg of a giant.

A victory, yes, but a small one at that and it makes little difference. Let’s see more of a challenge next season because this league is in dire straights.

SPFL might be the new branding but its the same old garbage. The only thing that keeps me going every season is the Champions League.

For many Celtic fans I’m pretty sure it is the same. Yes, you still have to win your league to be assured of a chance of qualifying but without Europe there is no challenge for Celtic.

The only challenge was of course our old rivals. If their Phoenix club every manage to mount a similar challenge, it is a long way off.

That’s not to say that I would be happy to see it go back to a two horse race. I’d prefer to see a more rounded challenge.

With all the issues that have gone on in Scottish football in the last few years I felt this was a good opportunity for real reform. That hasn’t happened and thoughts of Henry McLeish’s involvement, the referee saga, Lennon’s death threats and oldco going down are all but a distant memory.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Excelling in the face of adversity

Nobody would blame Neil Lennon for leaving Celtic. As a player and as a coach no other human being in Scottish Football has had to endure what he has.

Neil has had his own personal battles in life to contend with as it is. So when you consider what others have thrown at him, he has defended himself with the kind dignity that most can only dream of.

The media and the critics have never been short of pointing the finger at Neil either. “He brings it on himself”, they cry!

Moronic bleating like that go hand in hand with “I blame the schools” or “it’s just a bit of banter”. The fact is that an element exists in Scotland that it so steeped in hatred they cannot see the line they continually cross.

It isn’t just fans though, its journalists, fellow ‘professionals’ and broadcasters. When that is what Neil is up against, who exactly is on his side other than the Celtic community?

When you consider what Neil has gone through since joining Celtic, it is a miracle he is still here. Abused from the stands, in the street, with his family and lets not forget the bomb and death threats.

So what exactly is his crime? Northern Irish International footballer? Catholic? Played, captained now managing Celtic?

Wow! Do we really live in a world where this gets under people’s skin?

I wonder if independence really an option for such a backward country. I’m ashamed to be a Scotsman sometimes and living in England only makes it harder to defend.

Some people have been driven out of Celtic for less than Neil has faced. Yet I hope his career with Celtic continues for many years.

Still, everyone has a tolerance level. I’m sure Neil’s has been breached many a time as well.

The torrent of hatred directed at him is a cancer not only in Scottish football, but Scottish society. His presence in Scotland or at Celtic Football Club should not be an issue but it is.

Until sectors of Scottish society change, Neil Lennon will continue to make an example of them. He will continue to excel in the face of adversity and we have his corner.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie