Pundit claims Nick Hammond messed up Celtic transfer for player Lennon and dressing room wanted

By John McGinley

February 26, 2021

Pundit Tam McManus has claimed that Neil Lennon wanted to sign Steven Fletcher for Celtic last year, but that Head of Football Operations Nick Hammond messed the potential deal up.

Fletcher was linked with a move to Celtic Park last summer, with the former Hoops boss refusing to comment on the speculation. [The Herald]

McManus played with Fletcher at Hibernian and had a lot to say himself about a Fletcher switch to Celtic Park last summer, suggesting that the player was keen on the move.

Now he claims that the reason it all fell apart was because of Hammond.

Speaking to PLZ Soccer, McManus said: “I know for a fact that the players at Celtic and Neil Lennon wanted to bring Steven Fletcher in. I know that, I know for a fact that they wanted to bring him in. Nick Hammond messed him and his agent about so much, and they eventually walked away. Steven Fletcher was desperate to join Celtic.

“In the grand scheme of things that doesn’t affect a lot, Rangers would still have won the league, Celtic would’ve been miles behind. That’s the kind of breakdown between Neil Lennon, Nick Hammond and the board. Neil Lennon wanted Steven Fletcher in and he never got him.”

Fletcher eventually signed for Stoke City in August, where he has scored eight goals in 26 Championship matches. Not the most prolific of strike rates, but he does have more to his forward game than finishing.

Could he have been a viable candidate to partner Odsonne Edouard?

We know that Lennon wasn’t particularly happy with his striking choices, often leaving Patryk Klimala and Albian Ajeti on the bench at the expense of a midfielder.

Steven Fletcher joined Stoke instead of Celtic (Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Fletcher is unlikely to have been a difference-maker, but McManus’ version of events does shine a light on disconnects between the former Celtic manager and the rest of the recruitment team at the club this season.

That may have proven to be more damaging than the failure to sign the Scotland international.

In other news, our predicted XI for John Kennedy’s first match in charge of Celtic.