Celtic boss Neil Lennon appears to have a fan in AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli after his vocal backing of the Hoops boss today.
Lennon has been under the cosh over the last month for an increasing run of dreadful results, whilst the performances have been underwhelming all season.
Milan kickstarted their Europa League campaign with a sound 3-1 win at Parkhead – not the tricky fixture they would’ve been expecting. Since then, Pioli has been dominating in Serie A, winning seven out of nine games and remaining unbeaten.
Yet apparently he’s still had enough time to watch Celtic and be impressed with the job Lennon is doing, despite the fact we’re in freefall.
In what was a clear arm around the shoulder, Pioli said the following via Football Italia:
“I have respect for my colleague. I know he’s doing a good job. Celtic have always performed well, sometimes it happens not to gain results.
“We expect a determined opponent, we must be a very serious team tomorrow. We have not yet achieved the qualification. The game tomorrow must be played well because Celtic can create troubles for us. We must be very prepared.”
Look, we know that managers look out for each other whenever they can. Pioli is sitting in a glorious position and one positive result from qualifying for the last-32 of the competition – what else is he truly going to say?
But you have to look beyond the falseness of it all. You won’t find many Celtic fans saying “God, if Pioli’s saying he’s doing a good job then we better get behind him”. The truth is the Milan boss is in such a great position that he doesn’t need to bother with putting any more pressure on Lennon than there currently is.
Pioli gets brownie points for backing up a fellow manager whilst knowing his team will likely batter that same manager’s outfit in 24 hours. But supporters simply won’t be fooled.
So as we try to look for a way forward under Lennon given the board’s recent decision to give him more time, what’s his remit for tomorrow night? Three points would be far too unrealistic for any manager in this scenario. Even a point is likely beyond many fans’ proper expectations.
For us, we think simply making it a competitive game will see the manager earn some pass marks, at least until Sunday. If he can lay a glove or two on Milan whilst keeping it an entertaining enough spectacle, that will allow him to take his place in the dugout against St Johnstone at the weekend.
As things stand, that’s how Lennon has to look at things. It really is a case of one game at a time unfortunately.