Celtic legend Jackie McNamara on academy graduates, Lennon and the future

By Euan Davidson

January 14, 2021

Celtic legend Jackie McNamara is never one to shy from an honest assessment.

McNamara, who played under managerial legends including Tommy Burns, Wim Jansen and Martin O’Neill, believes that the club must start planning for next summer.

With the 10 gone, barring some kind of miracle, McNamara joined John and Hamish on 67 Hail Hail’s YouTube channel for a weekly catch-up. With the Dubai fall-out and a draw with Hibs on the agenda, there was plenty to discuss.

Asked whether Neil Lennon is likely to start using Celtic’s academy graduates more regularly, Jackie said:

“I don’t think he’ll put all the youngsters in just now.

“They’ve cancelled the lower leagues and the way things are going just now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they scrap the Scottish Cup this year. I think the focus would be to start the rebuild for the qualifiers. It is a chance to see some of the younger ones later on.

“The positive side that’s came out the last number of weeks is the likes of Soro and Turnbull coming in. They look like they could be in for a number of years now.

“It’s the time to see the players that want to be at the club, the ones that want a future at Celtic. [For the] ones that don’t, it’s the right time to move on.


A world-class talent, and Michael Ballack / (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Celtic legend Jackie McNamara on his former teammate, Neil Lennon

In a difficult position as both our favourite pundit and a former teammate of the incumbent manager, McNamara was typically honest about Neil Lennon.

Speaking about the manager and the club more broadly, Jackie Mac said:

“Neil’s brought a lot of questions onto himself, when he talks about culture change, and players not wanting to be there.

“Even when we’re winning, people are asking questions.

“It’s disappointing how the season is dwindling away. It just seems to be self-destruct at the club at the moment, and it has been since the start of the season.

“There’s a lot of things I think need addressed. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”


For Celtic, the future starts now

McNamara added:

“This year has been all about trying to secure the 10. Things have been done differently than in the past. There doesn’t look to be a [recruitment] structure.

“It’ll be a case of pressing the reset button, “how do we take the club forward again?”.

“The gulf was incredible, but Rangers have closed that, and they’re overtaking us at the moment. They’ve just kinda snuck up. That’s the frustrating thing, with the infrastructure we’ve had in place, that we’ve not moved further away, and let them catch us.

“Listen to the fans, because one thing I’ve said this year, being without fans has been the biggest problem to the team. The last thing we want is the stands to be empty.

“Focus now a bit more on Europe. Let’s try and get into the Champions League. The focus has been on the 10IAR, that’s gone. Look at the players in the academy, the recruitment side of things, and start getting the club moving again.”

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