Celtic boss' Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo decision paints bleak picture

By David Walton

August 15, 2019

Celtic manager Neil Lennon’s decision to drop Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo paints a sorry picture when it comes to how the left-back is rated.

It seemed after the 5-2 win at Fir Park that Boli was a favourite of Lennon’s. After all, it was Lenny who signed the Belgian for £3million from Rapid Vienna (The Herald). He clearly sees a player there, even if he’s struggled early doors to impress.

Lennon was even quick to come out and praise Boli for his second-half display at Fir Park (BBC). Sure, he was protecting his player from criticism, but he certainly provided him with plenty of backing.

Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo has been well backed publicly by Neil Lennon (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

But it’s clear that Boli’s omission from the starting line-up against Cluj shows that Lennon may have some other thoughts going through his mind on his new signing.

After all, Celtic had no real left-back alternative. Callum McGregor was even hooked from midfield and shoehorned into the position out of the blue. And it really was out of the blue too. This isn’t something Lennon has tried out whatsoever this season. And it showed.

Neil Lennon’s decision was a huge surprise

Even on the bench, all Celtic had was Jonny Hayes. Even he could’ve featured as opposed to pulling McGregor’s influence from the engine room.

But for the first time, we have solid signs that Lennon isn’t too pleased with Boli’s start. He clearly has some concerns over his new man, even if he isn’t making it public. His decision to put him on the bench for our biggest and toughest game of the season so far tells you all you need to know.

Neil Lennon clearly wants more from Boli (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

That’s not to say Boli’s time in the team is up. In fact it would hardly surprise you if Lenny threw him in against Dunfermline to try and get his confidence up this Saturday. It’s probably a fixture he could do with in truth.

But at the same time, Lennon clearly doesn’t have the confidence in Boli that he’s trying to make everyone else believe. The decision was a major surprise given the Belgian had played in all five of our Champions League qualifiers before last night.

Boli has plenty of work to do to get fans onside (Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

And now it’s a clear sign for the former Vienna man that he has to step things up. Even his manager has effectively warned him by excluding him from the Cluj match.

It’ll be interesting to see how Boli responds from his setback. But the warning is there for him – he has to improve and start impressing his manager.