Kelvin Wilson shares worrying Neil Lennon anecdotes on Celtic podcast; "We never did shape"

By Euan Davidson

November 24, 2020

Former Celtic defender Kelvin Wilson has spoken frankly about the tactical instructions of boss Neil Lennon.

Speaking to the Glasgow is Green Podcast , a snippet of the chat between GIGPOD’s Stevie and the Ilkestone Town coach has already alarmed Celtic fans who had doubts about Neil Lennon and co.’s ability to prepare the team tactically.

“We never did shape. Never.” Wilson said. “It was always drills, fitness was a massive thing. We all wanted to play for Neil, we all loved Lenny and wanted to play for him.”

Wilson also described opposition analysis in the run-up to fixtures.

“We didn’t concentrate on the other teams until probably the Friday, and it wasn’t on the training pitch, it was on the video.

“While we were eating dinner, Lenny would get the projector screen up and just let them play. Lenny would stop it and go through a few bits, but it wouldn’t be any longer than 15-20 minutes.”

Neil Lennon / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Why this matters

In modern football, scouting and opposition analysis are everything. For all we know, things may have changed behind the scenes at Lennoxtown but given the tactical inflexibility and the number of times we’ve been surprised by teams recently, with Sparta Prague being the key example, it’s still deeply concerning stuff.

It also points to complacency. It’s all very well imposing your style on the opposition game-to-game but not doing the due diligence on upcoming fixtures and leaving tactical briefings to the last minute is not the behaviour of a top-class football team.

With the increasing use of analytics and data in football scouting, with teams like Midtjylland and Bournemouth using new forms of information gathering to climb up the domestic leagues and, in the case of the former, securing European football, the noise from Celtic Park seems to indicate we have a lot of catching up to do.

Celtic training at Lennoxtown / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Playing for Lenny

It is a crumb of comfort, however, that Wilson talks about the players being behind Neil Lennon, albeit 8 years ago, in his first spell as manager of Celtic. When Lenny took over the second time, after the departure of Brendan Rodgers, the team played with much more freedom and seemed to enjoy their football more.

Now, the body language isn’t good. Hopefully the former Celtic captain’s man-management skills come to the fore as we ride out this bad run of form.