St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin has leapt to the defence of Neil Lennon and laid plenty of blame for his departure at the feet of the Celtic players.
Lennon has received an absolute tidal wave of criticism for the performance of his Celtic team this season. The signing of underperforming yet big-money players has also been planed at Lennon’s door. Eventually, the sheer apathy Celtic fans had towards him was enough for the club to spring into action.
Goodwin himself was one of the managers who provided one of the final hammer blows. Whilst Sunday’s shocking 1-0 loss at Ross County was the final straw, the 2-1 loss at home to Goodwin’s Buddies was the second-last. You could argue that was the day any confidence anyone may have had in Lennon was lost.
But Irish tactician Goodwin isn’t for having a pop at the outgoing Celtic boss. Instead, he’s moved to slam the players who have massively underperformed this term.
“A really top bloke”
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme [24/02, 17:45], Goodwin said: “You always feel sympathy for any manager that loses their job. I had a decent relationship with Neil Lennon when you were allowed to come into the office prior to Covid before games he always came in. He was a really top bloke. I think he can walk away from Parkhead with his head held high.
“He’ll be extremely disappointed but I don’t think there is anybody who loves Celtic as much as what Neil Lennon does. He can leave the club with his head held high after doing a fantastic job. I wish him well wherever he ends up.
“Neil will be honest enough to take a lot of the responsibility and a lot of the blame, but I do think with the quality of the players in that Celtic squad there comes a time where, yes ok, managers get it in the neck, but there comes a time where players need to step up and take some responsibility as well.
“Celtic have a squad full of top international players and multi-millions of pounds worth of talent on the park and for whatever reason, and ultimately they have let Neil Lennon down as far as I’m concerned.”
Jim Goodwin blames Celtic players; right to a point
Jim is right to a point here, but Lennon is the correct fall guy.
It’s no different from any other job in any other sector. The manager is the one who’s held accountable for a branch or an organisation’s results. Lennon’s responsibility at Celtic was getting on-field results. He failed to do that, regardless of how much you want to blame the players.
He brought so many of them to the club and he stuck by plenty of them even when they were under-performing. If he wasn’t getting the best out of them or some had downed tools, you have to question why they still played. We had plenty of competition all around the pitch this season.
Yes, there are major question marks to be asked about plenty of them. Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie, Olivier Ntcham etc. Too many have been sub-par in big games for us this term. And in a year when the carrot of 10-in-a-row was available to clutch.
They have to be held accountable to a point. But they were given clear direction and were set-up by one man – Neil Lennon. He’s the one who ultimately failed to get the best out of these clearly talented footballers.
As much as some may want to point the finger of blame elsewhere, much of this was Lennon’s own doing.