Ryan Christie opens up on how Celtic players felt about Lennon's post-Ferencvaros broadside

By Euan Davidson

March 2, 2022

When Neil Lennon said in the summer of 2020 that there were Celtic stars wanting moves and not playing to full capacity, you knew Ryan Christie and his teammates would react.

The dressing room response to that tirade, when Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League, has gone largely unrevealed. However, Christie has opened up on a tough time at Celtic, now starring for Bournemouth in the EFL Championship.

After the 2-1 loss at home, Lennon said [BBC]: “If some of you don’t want to be here, leave.” Of course, that was going to garner a response, and nearly two years on, Christie has shared how that felt for the players.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

He told Football Scotland: “It was tough because, number one, I don’t think anyone had stated they were absolutely desperate to leave at that point.

“A few people had maybe had offers in like Premier League or elsewhere that was promising for them. It was so early in the season where it’s a bit different for Celtic when you have such important games at the start of the season that it means you have to be focussed straight away.

“Did it have to be said? I’m not so sure. I think everyone was desperate to get a result.

“Everyone in our squad was firing on all cylinders to try and get through. Had we got into the Champions League that season I’m sure that would have steadied some players’ heads about leaving because that’s an attraction itself.

“People probably look back at those comments now and think, ‘That’s where it started going wrong so early’ but we took it as a minor blip, it was frustrating but it was still early and in our minds we were still thinking we’ll go on to have a successful season.”

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Ryan Christie gives some fascinating insight about Celtic, Lennon and those post-game comments

Perhaps, in Neil Lennon’s defence, this was a challenge to his players. Perhaps he’d seen some complacency emerging in the summer, and wanted to give the squad a bit of a shake.

At the time it seemed ill-advised, though. That remains the case in hindsight. Grim a night as it was, Lennon really did risk alienating the Celtic dressing room, Christie included. It’s worth noting that Christie was coming off a 20-goal, 16-assist season [Transfermarkt].

In fairness to Christie here, you’ve got to applaud his attitude. If the other players, like him, saw it as a frustration and not an end-point, then that’s something. Not that the season gave us anything to cheer about in general, however.

Photo by Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

It was grim. And honestly, it’s a shame Ryan Christie became such a whipping boy for the failures of that campaign. Collectively, Celtic just looked out-thought, out-matched and ill-prepared to win an elusive tenth consecutive title. For that era to end as it did was a real missed opportunity.

Nonetheless, Celtic are thriving in 21-22, and Ryan Christie is impressing in Bournemouth. We knew he’d probably be off eventually, even though it’s tempting to wonder what effect he might’ve had on Postecoglou’s Celtic. Early-season performances were most encouraging.

A lesson to aspiring managers out there; avoid openly questioning whether your players want to be in your side when talking to the media.

Read more: Celtic loanee Adam Montgomery suffers hamstring injury at Aberdeen; out for several weeks