Football fans love nostalgia, and Celtic are not exempt to this.
Remember the old kits? Roy Aitken and his massive hair? Frank McAvennie, the centenary season? The atmosphere of the Jungle? The “New Year Review” of Neil Lennon’s status as manager?
Ah, halcyon days, no doubt. While the sepia-tinted memories are a comfort, we’re now nearing mid-February. Despite everything, Neil Lennon remains in charge. It is still mathematically possible that Celtic could secure 10IAR, remember [BBC]?
What’s becoming less and less possible is a change in the Celtic dugout. As far as the Celtic board see it, from what we can tell, Neil Lennon will remain Bhoys boss until the calendar turns to June. That looks like the reality, going forward.
We have argued the merits of a managerial change for what seems like forever, now. In fact, at the time of his appointment, there was a sinking feeling in the pit of millions of stomachs. Yes, Lenny had just secured the Treble Treble, but there was precedent to suggest this wouldn’t end well.
End well, it has not.
But if you’re looking for change, you’re in the wrong place. It’s becoming more and more apparent that if a new manager is installed, it’ll be in the summer of 2021. Not that I’m calling our board slow on the uptake, it’s just more likely that in a window of flux with a new CEO coming in, it seems unlikely that more change will be announced in the very short-term.
Like him or loathe him at this point, we’re almost certainly stuck with Lenny until season’s end. So what does that actually mean going forward for the Celtic board and supporters?
Celtic board taking Champions League gamble
It means that a new boss won’t be able to come in and make the sweeping changes needed before Celtic take on a tougher route to the Champions League. Given the economic impact of Covid-19, it’s arguably never been more important to push for qualification.
Aside from the supporters and player sales, of course, competition bonuses are one of the main drivers of profit at Paradise. With zero disrespect to the Europa League, there is a huge different in pay-out for qualification to the continent’s premier prize.
Yet, despite how important it is, a new manager with a higher ceiling and more recruiting power will have to wait as the board dilly-dally.
New ideas will need to wait
It also means that in all likelihood, a new manager will have a smaller window to imprint their style and supporting cast. One pre-season does not a legacy make, and so whoever comes in will need to make an immediate impact.
There are many who will say “but that’s silly”. It is silly. If we’d hired someone prior to this summer, they would have time to implement their tactics, and assess the squad in its entirety before making recruitment decisions. However, in the infinite wisdom of the decision makers at Parkhead, we’re going to rush everything. The start of next season may continue where we leave off, in terms of form.
Or, it could be even worse. A big-name, high-calibre manager may encourage the likes of Edouard, Ajer, Christie et al to stick around. Under Lennon, we’re losing some of our brighter talents already. I ask again; how do you alienate someone as positive as Jeremie Frimpong?
So any freshness and momentum from a new presence in the dugout will need to wait. The Celtic board are making that clear.
Celtic board and their Season ticket issue
There’s a risk here that the board will care about; unless a new name is appointed to take over in the summer, season ticket sales are going to be affected.
That’s just what seems likely. Given the culture of protest over the last few months, it’s clear there’s a disconnect between the supporters and the club. There are fans demanding the removal of Neil Lennon, and it’s going to create a head v heart battle for so many.
On the one hand, we haven’t been able to watch the Bhoys in person for nearly a year. It’ll feel amazing to pass through the turnstiles when we get the chance. However, supporting this board with our own wallets is a tough ask, considering how this season has gone. The way fans have been treated is questionable at best, contemptible at worst.
The club are risking a funding deficit by toying with the support. It seems obvious, but picking the right man and suggesting a new regime in the summer is the best advert for season ticket uptake. More of the same will turn a number of folk off.
Worst-case scenario becomes most likely one
It’s an endlessly frustrating situation for us, the Celtic support. Neil Lennon won’t quit, it’s just not in his nature. He believes he will turn things around, and fair play to him, that’s admirable in a sense. But as the Green Brigade warned, the board are sleeping at the wheel. We’ve already all but let a shot at history slip.
With this profligacy, Celtic are gambling with the future. The worst-case scenario has become the most likely.
ELSEWHERE: another of England’s “Golden Generation” linked to Celtic: it’s a bad idea.