Celtic must learn Lennon lessons as managerial search continues

By Euan Davidson

March 11, 2021

So proof, if proof were needed, emerged about Neil Lennon’s Celtic tenure.

Owen Coyle, of all people, was the one to make the story. On the Celtic Huddle Podcast, the ex-Bolton and Burnley boss said that Lenny wasn’t allowed to bring in his own staff. It was a factor of Lenny’s second spell at the club that was much-rumoured, but now we have closure.

Coyle said:

“It’s such a big thing. There are good people at the club – good staff. But they were not Neil’s staff. I know for a fact that Neil had asked for different people to come in and help him. That never transpired. I think he needed that, if I’m being honest.”

This begs the question: why wasn’t Lennon allowed to recruit the team around him? In his first spell in charge, Johan Mjällby and Alan Thompson featured in a largely successful backroom staff. We beat Barcelona, we were winning titles and easily navigating the controversy-ridden scene of Scottish football at the time.

Peter Lawwell, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t give Lennon any sort of leash in terms of his backroom staff the second time round. Given that Lenny was only meant to be in temporarily, it makes sense for the immediate post-Rodgers era. But why not beyond that?

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

If Celtic trusted Lennon, why not let him hire his own staff?

We’re not here to argue the merits of Neil Lennon as a manager. Over this dreadful season, that’s been covered plenty. The possibility is, though, that Lennon was having to argue his tactical approach to his own assistant manager and coaching staff. That’s a needless headache; you need everyone on the same page to be successful.

If the club believed in him enough to offer him the job full-time (in the showers at Hampden), then there was room for Lennon to bring in his own staff? Especially one who had been successful in doing so during a previous spell?

That’s a worrying sign for any incoming manager. They may well be put off by the prospect of a board that’s hamstringing a candidate before they’ve even begun.

Brendan Rodgers was allowed to make wholesale changes at the club. Undoubtedly, it worked. It worked so well that the likes of Chris Davies and Kolo Touré followed him to Leicester City. John Kennedy was reportedly offered a life raft, too.

Therefore, the expectancy would be that the next manager will be allowed to revamp the dugout around him. The likes of Eddie Howe, Enzo Maresca or whoever just won’t take the job if they aren’t given enough freedom in their decision-making.

Simply put, the board have to be more liberal with the next manager.

READ MORE: how Celtic can navigate the next era in football.