As much as we’ve all taken part in a bit of Neil Lennon bashing in recent times (I’ve been one of the biggest culprits), there is one thing that you could use to defend him to an extent.
That’s the fact that the Hoops have had a run of extremely difficult games over the last two months. Not that we’re saying that Celtic shouldn’t have done better, but it’s not ridiculous to see why we would occasionally slip up to the likes of Rangers, AC Milan, Lille, and Hibs to name a handful.
Of course, what’s infuriated the supporters is the team’s lack of character in bouncing back. It’s something we’ve been so good at over the years and has provided a springboard for title success over the last two years in particular. That combined with our overall performance levels and there are plenty of concerns there.
But even so, Lennon’s had a tough run of games. Now, that’s about to end – at least domestically.
It’s clear by now that the Celtic board has no desire to get rid of the current boss. Therefore, taking a look at the future, he’ll be the first one breathing a sigh of relief when he looks at our upcoming domestic fixtures.
In between a Betfred Cup second-round clash vs Ross County and a Scottish Cup final against Hearts, Celtic have five extremely favourable Premiership encounters. Home games against St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, and Ross County will be followed by an away trip to Hamilton and another home match vs Dundee United.
Must-win fixtures; failure to do so and it’s time to go
These are the fixtures that lead up to January’s crucial Glasgow derby match at Ibrox. It’s an absolutely incredible opportunity for Lennon to relieve some of the pressure and bag us 15 massive points that could see us eat into the lead our rivals have at the top of the table.
Remember, we only need Rangers to slip up once to give us a shot at wiping out their advantage at the top in that January clash. That is of course if you assume we win the two games in hand.
Even so, you can’t deny this is Lennon’s greatest chance to build some consistency in the league this season. The trips to Hibs, Aberdeen, and Kilmarnock can now be put in the rear-view mirror for now.
Yes, there are Europa League clashes against AC Milan and Lille thrown into the mix, but losing those two fixtures won’t see the manager come under much more pressure. They’re extremely tough games that you could easily lose whatever level of confidence you have.
But he has his biggest chance yet to put things right domestically, with a chance to win a Scottish Cup there for him as well.
Alternatively, if he continues to stumble in fixtures largely against bottom-six sides then that simply has to be that and he should be handing in his resignation. But even though the pressure isn’t letting up on him, the difficulty of our domestic fixture list most certainly is.