Celtic have learnt absolutely nothing from the departure of Neil Lennon.
When it was announced by the club [Celtic FC], as sad as it was to say, there was genuine optimism. It’s nothing against the man, who won five trophies in his second spell as boss. Sadly, though, things unravelled in quite spectacular fashion, and he needed to leave the club.
Yet, here we are, months later. Nothing has changed. We are still subject to long, drawn out silences from the club in terms of the really meaty, substantial issues. The football is still largely turgid, youngsters still aren’t getting into the team and trying to figure out player recruitment is a bit like doing a Rubik’s cube with your arms tied and a blindfold on.
The club are now acting with unveiled contempt for supporters in a number of ways, and it’s a colossal disappointment.
Team selections remain the same, no matter which Celtic manager is in place
We were told, with absolute frothing excitement, about how good John Kennedy is as a coach. Maybe it’s still far too early to make any kind of real assessment about the interim boss, who inherited a squad with zero confidence, when the title was already remote.
But the man Damien Duff called “world-class” is falling into old traps set by our former boss. Perhaps too close to the first-team squad on a personal basis, Kennedy has stuck with players who are either past it or absolutely don’t deserve a place in the team.
That’s had multiple effects: it’s alienated young players, it’s been detrimental to results, and it’s made the already labyrinthian transfer policy look even more confusing. Neil Lennon put his trust in Scott Bain: it didn’t work. Lenny used a midfield diamond: after some initial success, it didn’t work. Diego Laxalt: didn’t work.
On the pitch, it’s been utterly farcical, barring some rare, fleeting moments of joy. We were told, with good reason, to look forward to a Kennedy run as boss. There was anecdotal evidence of his ideas, his relationship with the players and his tactical vision. We’ve seen little to none of that so far, and that’s a real disappointment.
Tactically and personnel-wise, nothing has really changed. The broken formula is still being followed and while nobody realistically expected much, Celtic have delivered less.
Club has done nothing to repair relationship with supporters
Instead of contrition, we’ve seen utter arrogance from the board. Our majority shareholder has insulted supporters with some kind of Desmond v Desmond interview [Celtic FC]. The Dubai debacle was a stain on Lennon’s second tenure, and what did the club learn? To keep the media at arm’s length.
In hindsight, Lennon seemed like the perfect spokesperson for the incumbent Celtic board. Spiky, often short-tempered and prone to outbursts. With the more placid John Kennedy in place, they seem happy to let others from within the club take flak that really shouldn’t be directed their way.
Yet, we’ve seen the Celtic FC Women team that letting fan media in and being more transparent with supporters reaps dividends. There’s more interest in Fran Alonso’s team, in part because fans have better access to the players. Through media outlets like ourselves, we’re getting a better indication of the personalities within the team, enjoying some positive results and – crucially – communicating when games don’t go our way.
Why that methodology isn’t the same throughout the club is an absolute mystery. Because it’d be more acceptable to fans if we at least had a chance to either air grievances or get a better understanding of what’s happening. Instead, we’re often drip-fed massive breaking stories late at night.
What next for Celtic?
Honestly? Who knows. There was optimism that Dominic McKay’s arrival would bring a more holistic, communication-centric approach. Now, there’s literally nothing that can be used against McKay yet. It’d be churlish and reactionary to blame him for anything at all, yet.
However, there’s a sense that his early start, while strategically positive, is hamstringing the ex-SRU man in another way. Normally forthcoming and direct with fans during his rugby days, McKay has joined the culture of distance at Celtic. Perhaps when he has full control as CEO, that’ll change.
In terms of on-field performances, it’ll be a case of writing this season off and starting again. Surely, surely there’ll be movement for a new manager. An announcement has got to come soon, because it’s turning us into more and more of a laughing stock. There’s a scenario in which we don’t get Eddie Howe, and that would be an acute embarrassment.
Simply put: get your house in order, Bhoys. Too long has passed with too little progress.