It's hard to know who former Celtic manager Neil Lennon is trying to convince

By Euan Davidson

June 5, 2021

The downfall of Neil Lennon at Celtic was particularly hard to take.

After all he put up with over both stints managing the Bhoys, much of the opprobrium aimed at the former Northern Ireland international from outside Celtic Park exemplified the key problems in Scottish football. A natural underdog, whose playing reputation as a midfield enforcer was perhaps unfair, Lennon underwent shocking ordeals just for who he was.

So, having to suggest he wasn’t equipped to lead Celtic to the promised land of 10IAR hurt. Nobody seemed more apt to lift the 10th title for us. Given all he’d been through to get there, it felt perfect. Until, of course, it didn’t. Under his leadership last season, the Hoops were utterly turgid. Bad performances led to bad results, and the seemingly unstoppable force Celtic once were utterly crumbled.

He had to leave the dugout, there’s no getting around that. However, with his quotes in a recent interview with the Times, he’s attacking the very fans who held him in such high esteem. Speaking to The Times, as shared earlier this morning by 67 Hail Hail, Lennon said:

“[Ross County was] the first cup defeat in 35/36 games. It was the end of an unbelievable cycle of success and for them to be treated that way was bewildering. They should have been lauded for it rather than abused. They were getting pelted with missiles. It was very sad.

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“There was a new breed of supporters that I had nothing in common with and who belie the values of the club. They are the ones that are giving the club a bad name.”

These fans? Celtic supporters unveil a banner in 2011 / (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Why is Neil Lennon saying this now, to the very Celtic fans who adored him?

If he means the Green Brigade, then he’s aiming his ire at the wrong people. Even when the supporters’ group were calling for Lennon to leave, it was with a heavy heart. These were the noisiest supporters of Neil Lennon, especially in his first tenure and for his return as manager.

They weren’t fickle, either. It would’ve been as much of a wrench to suggest that Lenny wasn’t equipped for the task as anyone.

And if Neil Lennon means fans on social media… well, given that supporters weren’t allowed at games, where else were people going to vent their frustration? If you don’t have that outlet every week, people are going to go to Twitter and complain about the football. That’s just what happens, and every football manager these days has to deal with that.

Expecting Celtic supporters to “laud” the players and staff after one of our worst results in recent years is utterly farcical. Yes, we had an amazing run in the cups, but it’s not like anyone forgets that. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were; it was an awful game of football, and Celtic looked absolutely insipid. There’d been as bad performances, but there’s always a tipping point. The moment when disillusionment becomes anger became inevitable.

It just feels at this point that Lennon is actively trying to alienate sections of the Celtic support. In fan media, we’ve had our fair share of digs for “chasing him out”, fairly or otherwise. But nobody was relishing the chance to criticise Neil Lennon. It was a disaster scenario, and nobody in the Bhoys support enjoyed it. That doesn’t mean they “belie” the values of the club.

It’s hard to know who he’s trying to convince here: himself, or us?

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