Nov 252012

Somehow I doubt the gentleman in the white could do a better job.

Yesterday, Celtic suffered a disappointing 0-1 home defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. This means that the Hoops have now only taken one point from a possible nine in their last three Scottish Premier League matches at Celtic Park. Obviously, the fact we haven’t managed to win a league game at home for six weeks isn’t something to be particularly proud of, but yesterday was, in itself, rather bizarre on a variety of levels.

It was a bitterly cold day, with no Green Brigade, a truly terrible referee, and a flat performance from the players in the hooped jerseys. As the half time whistle blew, I turned to the guy who I’ve been sitting next to for years now and said, “this has got one nil written all over it; I just don’t know who’ll score that goal”.

In the end, I was proven (sadly) right, as Caley scored and then proceeded to keep the home side out. As the final whistle went, a few “boo’s” rippled through the evening air. Down on the touchline, a few fans decided to “have a go” at the Celtic manager. This led to Lennon stating publicly that ““If the fans make it clear that they are not happy and they want me out then that’s okay, I will do the honourable thing.”

No one should be surprised by that. Neil Lennon loves Celtic more than most things in his life and, as he admitted after the infamous 3-3 draw at Rugby Park, he was forty five minutes away from throwing in the towel that day, not for the sake of himself, but for the the sake of Celtic Football Club.

Now, what I do find hard to grasp is the opinion, held by a very small minority, that Lennon should go. Perhaps the people giving the manager pelters were doing so as an emotional reaction to a loss, rather than as part of a reasoned and measured view they had formed over time, but it matters little on the grand scheme of things. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I’d be surprised if this minority was voicing their opinions after our victory on the 7th November.

Losing 4-0 to St Mirren was our worst result in around a decade.

Let’s have a think back to when Neil Lennon took over from Tony Mowbray. Celtic had just lost 4-0 to St Mirren, and found themselves sixteen points behind their now defunct rivals, Rangers. The Celtic squad that night in Paisley included the likes of Edson Braafheid (long gone), Josh Thompson (gone), Darren O’Dea (gone), Landry N’Guemo (long gone), Ki (whom Lennon made into the player we sold for several million), Aiden McGeady (long gone), Paul McGowan (gone), Paul Caddis (gone), and Zheng Zhi (long gone).

One other individual who played that day was the much maligned Georgios Samaras. I’d be the first to admit that the Greek striker, and Neil Lennon (who chose to stick with the Greek Gazelle through thick and thin) have proven me wrong. Prior to the famous 0-2 victory at Ibrox in January 2011, I would have sold Samaras in that transfer window, given the chance. In fact, if my memory serves me right, there were people offering to drive him to the airport! Nowadays, I regard him as one of the most integral parts of our team, and I’m honest enough to admit I was wrong.

And yet what a turn around we have witnessed, both with Georgios Samaras and, on a larger scale, with Celtic Football Club. Time and time again, Neil and his staff have shown ability, tact and poise, signing Fraser Forster instead of the other goalkeepers on offer (Grzegorz Sandomierski as an example); developing Ki into a very capable midfielder (who we have sold for a significant profit); turning Charlie Mulgrew into the prodigal son and leader we see today; bringing in young talent (Victor Wanyama, Joe Ledley, Adam Matthews, Gary Hooper and Tony Watt to name but a few) and allowing them the opportunity to show our supporters, and the world, what they can do on the football field.

Neil Lennon saw the potential in Forster, whilst Alan Pardew did not.

No one, and I mean no one, could have envisaged the rise of Celtic under Neil Lennon. No one could have predicted we’d match the greatest club side in the world (if not ever) over one hundred and eighty minutes, beating the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi at Celtic Park. No one could have predicted we’d be guaranteed European football after Christmas only a season after we were beaten by FC Sion. No one could have predicted we’d see Georgios Samaras break Henrik Larsson’s record of scoring at least once in consecutive away matches in Europe.

And yet, it is often easy to forget that Neil Lennon has persevered through times of adversity which would have broken most people, including myself. Show me another man who would be the subject of death threats, bombs in the post, an assault on the touchline, and yet he would not only stay in his current job, but succeed in his current job.

Without Neil Lennon, we would certainly not be where we are today. I’ve said before that I’d happily give Neil a ten year contract tomorrow if I could, and I still stand by that.

No manager is perfect. No players are perfect. No team is perfect. Anyone who thinks they should be is, in my mind, an idealist, and nothing more. We must be realistic. If Celtic were dire, Neil would resign for the sake of the Club he loves. However, Celtic are not dire. Celtic are on the rise. Yes, we can be somewhat inconsistent, but huge strides have been made since Neil took over and I, for one, am fully behind our manager.

Onwards to Tynecastle!

The vast majority still back Neil Lennon to the hilt.

  14 Responses to “Neil Lennon And Those Few Calling For “The Sack””

  1. well said!

  2. There were loads of failures at yesterday’s game, not least the support, we’ve seen how good our team is with our full backing in that fantastic night against Barca. So why are we surprised when they perform badly without us, every absent Celtic fan, including myself ,needs to take their share of the blame.

  3. I,m with you bud. Neil Lennon has my 100% backing.In the grand scheme of things, league results are largely unimportant for the time being, as both financially and for euro prestige and co-efficiency, the CL should take precedence. It is reasonable to expect focus to be somewhat diluted at the moment, and nobody will be
    more frustrated, than Neil regarding league results.At the end of the day, it is he who possesses more fitba knowledge in his wee finger, than the collective of his few detractors. With that in mind I say, Hail Hail to Lenny bhoy!

  4. I agree with most everything you say. But still I reserve the right to comment on games as I see them. Recently I cannot fathom some of NL’s team selections and some of his remarks. The most baffling remark is that the players are tired. Don’t understand that at all. Charlie Mulgrew has had to leave the field twice with no definitive explanation given. Gary Hooper had a very soft penalty awarded against him maybe 2 seasons ago and it cost us dear. Was he told after the game never to challenge for the ball? Yesterday Chris Commons was poor partly because he put so much work in on the ball when a simple pass was all that was required. Georgio since his return from various injuries has struggled a bit but I excuse this as I’m certain NL wants to get him fit and will play him every game. Another game like the one he had in Moscow on the return leg is something to work for. Substitutions seemed necessary against IC 10 minutes into the 2nd half. When the did come, well what a surprise, not at all what I expected. Mostly a dreary game with a few bright spots. Effe Ambrose was immense. Points awarded to all players and all officials would see Gary Hooper and the ref in joint bottom place.

    • Can’t disagree with any of that. I think there’s an argument for blooding some of the youngsters in these games that come after a Champions League match, as, on the whole, the full senior side aren’t doing too well with it judging by their track record.

      The likes of McGeouch etc would bring a much needed spark at times.

      Ambrose did very well, it was just a pity Kelvin Wilson couldn’t partner him due to illness (and that’s not something I thought I’d be saying after his first season!)

      Hope you’re well CL!

      • Sorry I didn’t make it to area 405, had a good excuse. I was in the rich seats, free coffee and pies in a warm lounge at half time. OK for a game now and then but my preference is up in the gods with the lads.
        Did you notice prior to Effe making the incredible interception to prevent a second goal that Commons had thrown in the towel? He ambled back and barely made it over the half way line where he came to a halt and watched to see a certain goal. He was one I would have hooked after 50 mins and yes Dylan McGeoch would have been my choice to replace him. Still I don’t have to make press calls, charity visits, nor negotiate contracts nor……. . Great having no responsibility. Area 105 for cup tie.

  5. I think your assertion that the ‘vast majority still back Neil Lennon to the hilt’ is correct, and I hope Neil knows that too.
    That said, performances in the SPL have been poor – no getting away from that. Do I think these results will change the destination of the title – no.

    But given that SPL attendances at CP have dropped this season, it is ever more important for the team to put on a good show to reward those who turned up, and to remind those who didn’t, why they should try to. So when the don’t put on a decent display, or put in their best effort to get the desired result, criticism will surely follow. And that includes the manager. How they choose to respond is what matters.
    After all, very few of us get away with successive poor results in our line of work – that is why you’re required to be professional.

    But yes of course, we all lose perspective when the immediate disappointment kicks in – I myself was wrongly singling out Paddy during the Dundee Utd game after we conceded the equaliser – but eventually I calmed down and got myself together (thankfully he doesn’t follow me on Twitter so no damage done).

    What I have noticed, and cannot abide by, is the disrespectful nature of some of the comments – and not just fans on players/ managers, but fans on fans when an argument breaks out. This has often led to charges of ‘not real fans’ or ‘if you don’t want your season ticket, give it to someone who supports the team’ etc. All utter rubbish. I cant stand people trying to define a hierarchy for Celtic fans – usually with themself at the top of the pile. Or trying to define ‘model’ fan behaviour.

    I only have one question when I meet someone in a football sense – do you follow the Glasgow Celtic. Everything else is irrelevant.

    And as long as you show restraint, respect and some tolerance for those around you, you can say what you want.
    And that goes for poppies, banners, songs, and comments in the aftermath of a defeat.

    Hail Hail

  6. I have been following Celtic for 54 years and think I realistically know when our club or indeed manager is in the grubberThis team is not. Yes we would a love to win every game but that isn’t how life pans out. Celtic pre Neil Lennon were going nowhere. He has formed a young team who have surpassed all expectation and are on the verge of the last 16 of the CL- did we expect such progress on the relatively meagre resources available? I think not .
    The people calling for the managers head probably hold the likes of Keevins. Guidi et al as erudite football experts and base their opinions on their ill informed reporting.
    Get real and realise where we are and with any luck where we are going – otherwise support someone else. You will not be missed!

    • I agree with you totally Andy. Some of our so-called support need to look at themselves. The word ‘support’ is not difficult to understand. It is one word which we learn early at school. I have been following Celtic for 52 years and like you, have supported them through some difficult times. We have a great young manager who wears the badge on his sleeve and a great young team who are developing at a fast and steady pace. It is time for some of these people to get real. It is not enough to support when all is going well. We need to support when players are not playing so well as they are not superhuman. Neil works hard and gives himself totally to the club. Why in God’s name did that idiot scream at him yesterday? Why did the fans boo them off the park? This is intolerable behaviour from a support that shouts about holding the moral high ground. You find out more about people when things do not go so well. We are not entitled to play well every time, to win every time and to avoid marking mistakes or errors of judgement as you have pointed out. Lets all get behind Neil and the team.

  7. I’ve followed Celtic for over 50 years now and have been blessed to have seen many great Celtic players in action. From the “Lisbon Lions” with Jinky to the “Centenary Double” team with Tommy Burns and the “Seville Celts” with Henrik. I have also watched some poor Celtic teams in that time, particularly when the cheats were copying (buying) their own 9-in-a-row. One thing that dismays me today is the total lack of respect shown to Lenny yesterday, following our poor performance against ICT. I sincerely believe that Neil Lennon will become a true Celtic legend in time and will be up there with Mr Stein and MON, so I would urge all Celtic fans to get out of the house and away from their computers and support the team at Paradise- that’s what I do. Celtic then, Celtic now, Celtic forever (125 and counting!)

  8. i trust Neil 100% he has brought the pride back. more patience needed by some.

  9. Christ!,lennon has had bomb threats, assaulted in the street,assaulted doing his effing job, and some of the celtic fans are calling for him to go!
    this guy is a fan first and a employee second,he has had to put up with media bias from day one and if the celtic family cant support who the hell will.
    dont forget top o th league, possible cl last 16,come on u bhoys in green,


  10. Wonder what the reaction would be if you took the Barca game out of recent perfomances, i would say there would be at least 50/50 split in wanting lenny to stay or go.
    Another thing and be honest with yourself, if Lenny was to leave where do you think he would go? Would you see any English Premier Team Looking for his services, i dont think so myself personally. Maybe his old club Leicester or Crewe…..Maybe Nottingham Forest, with Garry Parker also a previous player (who was signed by Brian Clough) they may get a look in. Lenny is a Cheap option that our Moneymen dont want to spend, on a TOP Manager and Top Players.
    How many season tickets have we now got at CP? I read recently on Celtic web, that for the recent Barca game EACH season ticket holder were entitled to purchase 3 tickets! So whats that then 17000-20000?

  11. I can’t understand how anyone can criticise Lenny or the players. Yes we should be battering the likes of ICT but the players (and fans) are struggling to get motivated for these type of games after the European matches. The biggest problem we all have is that there’s no real challenge in the league since the demise of the cheats and we will win it without having to try too hard. What I would do is play Paddy, Dylan and a few other fringe players as they will have more hunger and want to prove to Lenny that they are worth a place in the starting 11. Normal service will resume soon so get off Lenny’s case and let’s get behind the team. Just remember where we were under Mowbray

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