"You know who your friends are"; Celtic boss Neil Lennon talks pressure

By Euan Davidson

February 6, 2021

Celtic boss Neil Lennon: even the mention of his name is enough to frustrate many supporters.

The combative, outspoken Hoops boss has faced heavy criticism all season. A side who romped to the title last time round has looked bereft. The league, while not mathematically out of bounds, is surely beyond our reach, while we were knocked out of Europe with a whimper.

So far, Neil Lennon has blamed Celtic’s misfortunes on a number of things. The Scottish Government, a lack of supporters, the pandemic itself, mercury in retrograde. None of it’s washing with the support, while Lennon himself has learned a great deal from the experience.

In quotes attributed to the Daily Record, Lennon said:

“You know who your friends are.

“It’s a test of your character and you learn more about putting things into perspective, not getting too high or too low.

“I’ve learned a little bit more about my players as well, about their characters and personalities. It’s not been a lot of fun for them at times, it’s been very difficult for them but we’re not the only ones affected by this.

“This is my first time managing during a pandemic so we’ve learned a lot from that, although I hope it won’t last for too much longer.”

Celtic manager Neil Lennon / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic boss Neil Lennon channels Drake

It’s a bit “U ok? I’ll PM you, hon xox” from the Celtic boss at times, here. A lot of his “real friends”, like John Hartson and Chris Sutton, have expressed concern for his well-being, and have been savagely rebuked. Obviously we’re not privy to conversations had by the Celtic boss, but you’d imagine a lot of his pals are telling him to walk away for his own good.

That doesn’t make them bad friends, or fake friends. It makes them right.

We have to – and I mean, we really must – assume he’s talking with his tongue firmly in cheek regarding managing in a pandemic. Otherwise, wow. While it’d be great to hear from managers of the Spanish Flu era, every football manager at all levels of the game has been affected by Covid-19.

One good thing emerges here, though. He seems to have genuine empathy for his players, and that’s key. Much of the squad haven’t played with the usual vigour we’ve come to expect. A lot of laboured performances have led to bad results.

By actually extending an olive branch to his charges rather than constantly hammering them, he could repair a fractured dressing room. God knows, he needs togetherness from his squad to finish the season as well as possible.

Here’s our Predicted XI as Celtic take on Motherwell.