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Neil Lennon or Fabio Capello? The experience question

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England's No. 1

Neil Lennon doesn’t have experience of management, Fabio Capello does.

Appointing Lennon as Celtic manager is a calculated risk; every decision, transfer, sacking and signing in football is a risk.

There are two key elements in the wish list for a Celtic manager- experience and know-how of the unique demands of managing Celtic in an intense two horse race.

No-one ticks both boxes.

Lennon’s management experience is extremely limited, his knowledge of the demands of the job are second to none. He was a major part of the successes that both Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan enjoyed, he understands the all-or-nothing nature of playing for Celtic where second is last.

There was one telling phrase that the new Celtic boss used on Wednesday when he was asked about transfer targets replying: “I like experience but I want that with quality, there’s no point bringing in old heads that can’t play.”

The same sentiment applies to management.

Capello has a cv that can be matched by no more than half a dozen managers currently operating in the game.

Championships won in Italy and Spain as well as a lifetime at the sharp end of management covering double stints at AC Milan and Real Madrid had the FA drooling over the prospect of appointing the then unemployed Italian as national manager.

A salary quoted at anything between £4-6m was hardly an issue when it came to acquiring a manager of calibre capable of wiping out the mistakes of Schteve McClaren and Sven Goran-Eriksson.

Tonight, in the first major test of his management, Capello bombed spectacularly with a catalogue of errors that will have the English media turn spectacularly on the Italian.

With the game being played on a Saturday the sub-editors of The Sun have an extra 24 hours to come up with something to rival or surpass previously classics such as ‘Swedes 2-1 Turnips’, ‘Yanks 2-0 Planks’ and of course ‘Wally with the brolly’ to describe McClaren’s final game in charge.

Despite his wealth of experience Capello managed to put together half a dozen mistakes into 90 minutes that will have brought reality thumping home for even the most deluded of England supporters.

Since beating Ukraine 2-1 in April last year England’s qualification for the World Cup has been a formality but despite having over a year to put a team together the Italian’s side looks remarkably similar to Eriksson’s serial failures.

a) Who is the first choice England goalkeeper?

b) Can he get Wayne Rooney to replicate his Manchester United form?

c) Can Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard compliment each other?

d) Does he consider Ledley King or Jamie Carragher as adequate plan B’s for the injury prone Rio Ferdinand and John Terry

e) Can he really carry a non-scoring striker like Emile Heskey who can’t win a regular place at club level.

Of course as a Celtic supporter we have other more important matters pending but watching one of the world’s most revered managers get things so badly wrong does shed some light on domestic matters.

The answers to the questions above are a resounding no leaving England’s campaign in tatters.

Choosing between Robert Green and David James is a throwback to the days of Rab Douglas or Magnus Hedman when only Douglas’s reliability made him first pick over the erratic Swede.

With so much expected of him and doubts over his fitness and temperament it probably wasn’t unsurprising that Rooney put in a low key performance.

Poster boys Lampard and Gerrard seem undroppable which is par for the course from a manager happy to dish out caps for 10 and 15 minute PR appearances from David Beckham then award him an unspecified role in his coaching staff.

Above all the centre of his defence must be Capello’s major worry.

Ferdinand’s injury was possibly a lucky break, sparing the Manchester United defender the misery of breaking down during the tournament without being able to draft in a replacement.

As back-up Capello has gone for the untried and injury plagued King whose tournament could be over after 45 minutes.

Carragher, King’s replacement, fared no better, looking badly off the pace, collecting a booking and turned for pace when Jozy Altidore struck the post midway through the second half.

In the lead up to Friday’s match with Algeria every single word from Capello will be taken apart with the qualification campaign also coming under scrutiny.

Eriksson was able to dine out on a 5-1 win in Munich, Capello won’t be given the same leeway with a 4-1 win away to Croatia not carrying the same weight.

Earlier in the day rookie boss Diego Maradona had Argentina playing with purpose and passion with only an inspired display from Vincent Enyeama denying Maradona’s side an emphatic victory.

Lennon will soon experience the full demands of being in charge and responsibility for results.

Even without ticking the experience box I can’t see Lennon coming up with a collection of mistakes to match Capello’s nightmare World Cup debut.

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