Celtic manager Neil Lennon discusses momentum; has big calls to make for Sunday

By Euan Davidson

February 12, 2021

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has reason to smile.

For once, his much-derided in-game management reaped dividends against St Mirren on Wednesday night [BBC]. In effect, Lennon stumbled upon the winning formula, with 3 goals following a raft of substitutions. During what had been a very odd, stodgy game from a Bhoys perspective, Lennon tinkered and this time, it worked.

Anyone watching will have been encouraged but still quite concerned. Against a team who had given us problems, Celtic lacked drive and creativity. In the first half, we struggled to keep meaningful possession. Tom Rogic, despite his goal, gave the ball away endlessly. 4-0 probably flattered Celtic in the end.

Neil Lennon has claimed that there were a number of positives from the game. That’s undoubtedly true, as the last 15-20 minutes were excellent fun.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the Celtic boss said:

“I was really pleased with the St Mirren performance. That was a really good win, a powerful win.

“It reminded me a lot of us last season. That’s a good sign. The players were strong and physical, their mindset was very good in terms of wanting to be ruthless and score more goals, and keep a clean sheet. A lot of positive signs from that game.”

Celtic boss Neil Lennon / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has reason to be cheerful, but problems remain

Call me cynical, but it’s hard to imagine Celtic supporters doing cartwheels after Wednesday night.

A more attacking side would’ve caused us problems on Wednesday night. The game was largely shaped by St Mirren losing Jamie McGrath to injury in the first half. Without him, Jim Goodwin’s side looked rather toothless going forward.

While it might seem churlish to bristle after an emphatic win, the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. For the majority of the match, Celtic didn’t make any outstanding chances. Rogic’s goal aside, it took until a 79th minute penalty to raise any kind of excitement.

Against a team we should be beating with ease, that’s a worry. Also, there’s going to be genuine curiosity about Lennon’s next team selection. The 4-4-2 diamond didn’t really work against Goodwin’s side, who did their homework.

Instead, the real attacking flair came when Christie came on. He and Turnbull combined excellently, in a creative partnership that really deserves more time to blossom. Brown was average on his third appearance in a week, and it’ll be interesting to see whether Soro returns to the side.

So, Lennon hangs on for another week in a soap opera season. He sounds excited about building on the Wednesday win. St Johnstone, though, are a different prospect entirely. Does the manager stick with the starters, or twist and hope for more fire-power from the stuttering Celts?

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