Lennon must learn from Livingston's Gary Holt; Celtic boss must be more self-critical

By David Walton

November 22, 2020

Neil Lennon is undoubtedly under pressure after yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Easter Road, but if there’s one thing that fans can appreciate, it’s some self-criticism.

The most disillusioning road the Celtic boss can take now is for him to launch a staunch defence of himself as he has done in the past. Instead, trying to relate to the anger within the Hoops support at the moment should be one of his big priorities to get some breathing space.

However, that’s not what Neil did yesterday. Disappointingly, he was again looking to turn the criticism over to his players and actually bigged up his own influence on yesterday’s draw at Hibs.

Incredibly, and in the only points in which he reflected on his own performance, he told Celtic TV: “Again I’ve had to change the shape to get us back into the game. We were too passive in the final-third first half of the game. I don’t know if we’re giving them too much information or not enough, but it looks like some of them are overthinking it at times.”

Lennon portrays things here as though it’s him who’s had to swoop in to save the day and not Diego Laxalt. The truth is it’s been his decision-making that’s seen us potentially drop 11 points behind Rangers should they beat Aberdeen this afternoon.

Holt strikes a different note

Now, compare this to Livingston boss Gary Holt’s comments after his side lost 1-0 at home to St Mirren yesterday.

Livingston are now just five points clear of Hamilton at the bottom, but have played two games more. In addition to that, Livi have only won two of their last nine games and are winless in five.

But he wasn’t looking to deflect all of the blame onto his players. Instead, he took a more philosophical view as he spoke about his own performance. Speaking to the BBC, Holt said:

“I asked them to go away and have a look at themselves (the players). I’ll have a look at myself tonight and decide whether what I’m doing is right or if it’s good enough. If it’s not, then we’ll get someone else in.”

Livingston boss Gary Holt strikes a different tone to Celtic’s Neil Lennon / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

This is brilliant, and it’s exactly the sort of tone that will strike Livingston fans in the right place. They’ll accept their manager’s words and the honesty of them.

Whilst Holt does criticise some of the players’ attitudes in the interview, he also questions his own performance. There’s no firm denial that everything he’s doing is right, which is the impression you get from Lennon at times. As if it’s all the players’ fault and there’s nothing extra the management team can be doing.

The Celtic fans need to see this kind of humility from their own manager. That’s what will buy Lennon a bit more time. Speaking for myself only, I know that if Lennon was to come out and admit to his own mistakes and say that he needed to reflect on himself, I would accept that. It would incline me to give him a bit more space from criticism.

We all make mistakes, whether that be in our jobs or in our personal lives. That admission from Holt there will buy him some more time to get things right. Fans will want to see the result of his self-analysis.

But you don’t get the feeling that Celtic’s boss is doing the same thing. Instead, it’s everyone else’s fault and he can only do so much. At this point, just an admission that he may not be getting things right would be a start.

These interviews matter, and Lennon isn’t endearing himself to anyone with his approach. He could learn plenty from Holt’s chat with the BBC yesterday.

In other news, Neil Lennon’s stance has been backed by a fuming rival Premiership manager.