Are Neil Lennon’s methods of man management and motivation effective anymore?
That’s one of the big questions I’ve been asking myself since Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Hibernian.
For all the criticism that Celtic have received this season from pundits and supporters, some of the most brutal words have come from Lennon himself.
In the wake of the defeat to Ferencvaros earlier this year, the manager even sparked a fire under dramatic rumours of unrest, suggesting some of his players were ‘obviously not committed’ to the Celtic cause (The Herald) and wanted away.
After a shocking 4-1 result against Sparta Prague, a pandemic stricken team who hadn’t been playing league football, Lennon dubbed his players ‘lazy’ and the performance ’embarrassing’ (The Daily Record).
As recently as Saturday, Lennon accused his players of ‘lacking hunger’, again describing their slack play as ‘laziness’ (The Daily Record).
You might agree with the manager’s assessments here. I do, in some cases. However, is it helping the players?
I’d argue that it quite clearly isn’t.
These are attacks on the squad’s professionalism.
The group of players Lennon is working with don’t come from the same blood and snotters environment he emerged from in the 1990s, successful playing for Celtic after the turn of the century.
They are even a different generation to your Gary Hoopers, Anthony Stokes and Charlie Mulgrews.
What Lennon is doing right now to fire up his players isn’t having the desired effect, and his post-match outbursts might be part of the problem at the club.
There’s only so long you can go on criticising and lambasting your employees in public before they decide enough is enough.
I have a strong suspicion young players like Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer need a more measured approach.
Lennon has likely tried the ‘arm around the shoulder’ routine too, but if neither approach is working, what options does he have left before deciding he can’t get the best out of these players?