As much as Neil Lennon has been receiving plenty of stick for one of the worst results in the club’s history, Peter Lawwell and his boardroom colleagues may think they have a defence.
There’s no denying that Lennon was backed in the summer financially. The manager failed to qualify for the Champions League yet still watched on as the board refused to sell any of our top stars. In addition to that, the club made big-money moves for the following:
Vasilis Barkas – £4.5m (Scottish Sun), Albian Ajeti – £5m (Sky Sports), David Turnbull – £3m (Daily Record), Shane Duffy – £2m (Sky Sports). Mohamed Elyounoussi’s wages won’t have come cheaply either.
All of that money – upwards of £14.5m – has been invested into the side whilst nothing has come in from UEFA or from player sales. At a time when Covid is rippling through football clubs’ finances, that was fair play from the club at the time.
However, over time, it’s been shown that they’ve ultimately chosen the wrong man to back with those finances. Lennon’s side sit 11 points behind Rangers in the Premiership, out of the Champions League and Europa League, and now out of the 2020/21 Betfred Cup.
The board can’t turn around and go “Well, we backed him”. It’s them who chose the manager in which they wanted to back. Ensuring that you give your manager the funds necessary to improve the team is no defence. It should be a minimum requirement of the board in truth.
Many fans saw this coming
There were plenty of worried voices at the time Lennon was given the job back in May 2019. Gradually, Lennon did his best to turn many of those voices around last season despite the occasional worrying sign being there.
But for one reason or another, it’s all falling apart this year, and that’s ultimately on the manager and the board who chose to back him over an alternative in the first place.
They effectively run the club remember. They can’t go picking what decisions they want to boast about or be responsible for. You can’t choose the wrong man for the job, invest heavily in that option, and then turn around and say you’ve done your bit.
The board are every bit as accountable here as Lennon. The manager could hardly say no to the finances he was given by the club to strengthen the team. Yes, signings have largely been questionable, but that all links to Lennon’s performance. And in that case, you turn to Lennon’s bosses as to why he’s there in the first place.
Lawwell and Dermot Desmond were warned about this scenario when they took Lennon on in the first place. However, they knew best of course and simply had to go pressing ahead with it. Forget what the fans are saying because wee all know nothing of course.
And now they’re finding out exactly what we all knew would happen when Neil initially got the job. It may have taken longer to happen than we first expected, but it’s even more hurtful that our collapse is happening right now.
All the board have done by spending all of that money, in the end, is make it even worse. So give yourself a pat on the back Peter – you’re just as accountable as the manager.