If Celtic boss Neil Lennon stays, here are 3 changes he must make

By Euan Davidson

January 21, 2021

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is on the ropes. There’s no doubt there.

For what it’s worth, I’ve already made my feelings clear. Lennon has never had the tactical nous to be a long-term success at the Celtic.

It sounds harsh, but it’s true. The team selections have constantly baffled, while in-game substitutions get odder by the match. His famed man-management abilities have had little effect on the squad, while multi-million pound signings are frozen out.

To be honest, it’s all quite grim, and it feels like déjà vu talking about how Celtic manager Neil Lennon can fix things. The season is beyond fixing at this point.

Yet, there are steps he can to take to soften the blow and actually win some matches, should he keep his job. Let’s take a look at how the wins might come if Lenny is willing to take some risks.

Celtic defender Stephen Welsh / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Play the youngsters

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has taken a strange approach to youth development. When the pressure’s been on, he’s thrown the likes of Stephen Welsh in at the deep end.

Conor Hazard’s promotion to the first-team was certainly rushed, too. Meanwhile, the likes of Karamoko Dembélé, Armstrong Oko-Flex and Luca Connell have impressed at youth level, but haven’t had a look-in.

If Lennon wants to leave any kind of positive legacy at Celtic, he simply must play the youngster at the fringes of the squad.

Key men haven’t impressed this season (we’ll get to them). We’ve recruited poorly, and a number of our brightest prospects might leave in the summer. Actually giving game-time to the youth movement might encourage them to stay beyond this season, and have an impact on results.

Welsh, for example, should be playing at centre-back in the absence of Ajer or Duffy. With Elyounoussi and Forrest missing significant chunks of the season, the myriad young wingers like Cameron Harper and Dembélé really should’ve seen game time much sooner.

20-21 has been horrendous. Why not, then, finish it by helping the careers of academy players who have worked hard to stay at the club?

Lenny and Duffy / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Be bold: Celtic man Neil Lennon must drop Shane Duffy

Shane Duffy’s tenure at Celtic has been a disaster.

We’re acutely aware of the personal problems the big Irishman has been having. Nobody will be more disappointed than Duffy himself, who has spoken of fulfilling his Dad’s dream by playing in the Hoops (Herald).

Ultimately, though, the Ireland captain doesn’t deserve his continued place in the team. We just talked about Stephen Welsh, who in a handful of appearances has impressed.

Last night summed it up; Livingston’s first goal was the result of a daft free kick and anonymous defending from set-pieces. We simply don’t look confident when Duffy is on the pitch, especially from dead ball situations.

It’s time to end this experiment, and – brutal though it may be – thank our lucky stars that he’s only in loan.


Celtic striker Albian Ajeti / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Go back to the diamond and play Ajeti

Celtic’s best period this season was with a midfield diamond. In the lead-up to the second Glasgow Derby of the season, the tactic had been working a treat, and its use was justified against Rangers.

Since then, we’ve obviously had a litany of selection issues, what with… well, y’know. Now, though, Celtic have strikers back in contention, and a front two would benefit us greatly.

The shape has got the best out of Ismaila Soro, David Turnbull and our strikers this season, with Edouard and Griffiths getting more chances using the system.

It suits both Edouard and Griffiths’ movement, as they both come deep to link up with Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and David Turnbull. However, with Griffiths’ patchy form and fitness issues, Ajeti needs another opportunity.

At this point we can only speculate as to why the Swiss striker isn’t getting any minutes. Maybe he thinks Snus is foul, or he doesn’t remember the 90s. It’s anyone’s guess.

But at £5m, he represents a significant investment for the club, and he’s generally scored goals when he’s had opportunities, particularly early in the season.

Just play him, Lennon. Let’s see what he can do for the Hoops. There’s so little to lose now, and it’s not like if he struggles he can’t be substituted.