The Chelsea success story that should leave Celtic with huge regret
For any Celtic fans watching Chelsea storm into the Champions League final last night, you could’ve been forgiven for shaking your head with disappointment.
Not at the London club of course. Granted, they’re hardly the most popular English team amongst the Parkhead fanbase. But instead, your disappointment may have come from the fact that Celtic have been shown up by the Blues’ ruthless decision-making this season.
Chelsea started off the campaign with club icon Frank Lampard as manager. Despite a decent start to the season, they quickly dropped to ninth in the Premier League and Lampard was swiftly sacked. No messing about. Chelsea knew they were operating with a manager who wasn’t getting the best out of a talented group of players, and made a swift decision in January as soon as they noticed things were going wrong.
In came supreme motivator Thomas Tuchel, a deal that was clearly going on in the background towards Lampards final days. The man-management skills of the German tactician has already worked instant wonders. Last night’s 2-0 win over Real Madrid saw Chelsea book a Champions League final spot against Man City, with not a single Tuchel signing in the door yet.
What we’re seeing from the London club is how big a difference a good man-manager can make with a talented group. Chelsea didn’t wait for their season to implode before sacking their manager. They didn’t hold on to sentimentality. Instead, they went out and made a ruthless call in a bid to save their campaign. Now? They sit in fourth place in the Premier League and have a huge chance to win the Champions League for only the second time in their history.
Chelsea lead the way on ruthless managerial calls; Celtic are the complete opposite
You can’t help but draw parallels from how Chelsea have done things to the way Celtic have handled the most important season in recent memory.
Celtic decided to hold on to Neil Lennon for almost as long as they could get away with it. When he left the club in February? We were already 18 points behind Rangers with a handful of league matches remaining. What did we do when Lennon left? We brought in John Kennedy instead of having a replacement already in place.
But the truth is Celtic should’ve acted a lot earlier. Lennon should’ve been given the chop at the very latest after the December loss to Rangers. Or, more appropriately, after the 2-0 loss to Ross County at Parkhead back in November.
Celtic refused to do anything about it. They refused to have a candidate lined up to replace Lennon in case the worst happened, and now here we sit. Two games left this season and absolutely nothing to get excited about under Kennedy.
Yes, Chelsea were ruthless, but they weren’t unfair. All they can be accused of is spotting a major decline from a manager who couldn’t get the best out of a talented group of players. Say what you will about Celtic this season, but nobody can say we have a poor group.
Quite the opposite in fact. We have underperformers, and what this squad needed was a manager capable of motivating them. As we continue to look down south with Chelsea, meanwhile, we’re able to catch a glimpse of what a mid-season revival actually looks like.