We all know how it works. If you’re asked about whether the manager has the faith of every one of the players, you’re hardly going to say he doesn’t if you’re one of those players.
That makes sense. Doing so incurs the wrath of said manager, and that’s likely why Neil Lennon has been so heavily backed in the media over the last several weeks by his squad.
This was a plus for Neil when it all started. When the pressure started ramping up on him after some initial poor results in October, he needed a bit of backing from somewhere. Considering many were wondering whether he had the support of his players, the backing was certainly welcome.
Albian Ajeti came out in the midst of it all last month and said he would support Lennon’s tactics “100%” (The Herald). The captain was next up, telling the Celtic fans not to blame Lennon but to instead look at the players, stating that the “manager has been fantastic for us” since he came in (The Herald).
Over the last week alone, another two have verbally announced their support for the Lennon bandwagon. Callum McGregor tried to paint a picture of unity on the club’s official media channels, saying that “everyone is together”. Mohamed Elyounoussi was last up to come out and straight up say the words “we are playing for the manager” as he bigged up the effect Lennon has had on his career (Scottish Sun).
It’s clear Lennon has plenty in his squad who are willing to come out and put their names to this on-paper backing list. But given the recent results, absolutely all of this is now meaningless.
Words can’t mask performances anymore
They may come out in the press and say the things they have to, but that won’t defend Lennon anymore. He needs to see it being backed up on the pitch, and it hasn’t been backed up all season. The performances have been consistently dreadful, so much so that you’ll be surprised when you eventually see a positive performance.
Players who are backing their manager and are fully supportive of his work don’t go out and lose 2-0 to Ross County. Players who back their manager don’t lose 8-2 over two games to an average Sparta Prague side. Players who back their manager don’t concede a total of 23 goals over the last 10 games.
When you consider the players who have spoken too – Brown/McGregor/Elyounoussi/Ajeti – all of them have been extremely poor in recent weeks.
Talking to the media is grand and it allows the club to paint whatever kind of picture they wanted to about what’s going on behind the scenes. But the actual football has very quickly shown that it’s a false narrative they’re trying to set.
This is where Lennon and his Celtic players have been found out. The results peel off the mask of fakeness they’ve tried to put on the club when faced by the media.
Now our true form is starting to show, and it points to a much more messy picture behind the scenes than we’ve been made to believe is the case. This is why, albeit not happily, we’re all demanding action.