Celtic boss Neil Lennon running out of allies as farce continues

By Euan Davidson

January 28, 2021

If anyone knows the standards at Celtic Football Club, it’s manager Neil Lennon. Only at a club like Celtic, would an article like this follow a 2-0 win.

Last night’s solid if unspectacular victory did little to placate supporters, who have been desperate for change. There’s a significant proportion of the Hoops support that never wanted a Lennon return in the first place. A sense of foreboding cast a shadow on Celtic’s Treble Treble day, with the manager being appointed in the Hampden showers.

Because, to be blunt, so many of us saw this season coming.

Lenny was unlucky at Bolton Wanderers [BBC]. Amidst a vast financial crisis, he did his best to keep the club afloat. Ultimately, results were his undoing, and he left by mutual consent. That phrase also appeared when Lennon subsequently departed Hibs, under far more concerning circumstances [Herald].

Sure, Lennon had been the Celtic manager before. But since then, two jobs ended badly. His tactics were out of date, as was his approach to man-management. Dressing room rows and discontent left a stain on his CV.

That said, when he took over from Brendan Rodgers in February 2019, we were delighted to see him achieve exactly what was needed. As were his former playing colleagues still associated with the club; the likes of Chris Sutton, Jackie McNamara and John Hartson.

The tide is definitely turning, however. As my colleague David Walton pointed out in the last hour, Big Bad John has turned from vocal supporter of Lennon to reluctant dissenter. Hartson suggested that a “freshness” is needed with Celtic failing dismally in the search for 10IAR.

Sutton and Hartson: two big Lennon backers, celebrating a goal in Stuttgart / (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty images)

Celtic legends have reluctantly turned on Neil Lennon

It’s not as if Lennon’s ex-teammates have twisted the knife. They’ve backed Lennon until it was absolutely impossible to do so, which is the stage we’re at now. More and more, Lennon’s job is looking untenable.

Chris Sutton was perhaps the biggest Neil Lennon supporter going. Most recently, he’s said “if I was in his shoes, I would actually walk away” [BT Sport/Twitter]. Stiliyan Petrov was next [Celtic Huddle Podcast]. These aren’t jibes from nobody commentators like me, they’re from his closest football confidantes.

It’s gentle advice from friends that Neil Lennon is getting, albeit in the public sphere.

Maybe he does truly believe Celtic can still win the title, or at least, he’s best-placed to mount that challenge. Problem is, the men in the trenches with him during his playing days, the ones with the most faith in Lennon outside of Lennon himself, just aren’t buying it any more.

But he’s not walking away, and the club, as we know, are dithering. We need answers, a vision for how Celtic progress beyond this rut.

Wins against Hamilton are fine and well, but they inspire little in the way of confidence. Equally, we’re getting ready to lose a raft of players who could’ve served the club with distinction.

There’s something clearly wrong at the core of the dressing room, and it’s not hard to imagine what, or who, that is.

As far as I can tell, blasting your pals in the press is not a sign of a person in control of a situation. It’s been an ugly debacle, watching Lennon alienate his former teammates.

But if he won’t listen to them, or the supporters, he won’t listen to anyone.