I like Neil Lennon, it’s hard for any Celtic fan not to like him.
He has flaws, plenty of failings but any 21st century history of the club will have him at the centre of most aspects, player, coach and manager.
In February of this year he came to the rescue of the club as it stared at a disaster that had been brewing since the summer fall out between the chief executive and manager. A clash of two intolerable egos.
At the 2018 AGM a united front was presented to shareholders but deep fault lines were already running through the club with the January 2019 transfer window as disastrous as the previous two.
When Leicester City made their offer Brendan Rodgers snatched at it almost as quickly as Peter Lawwell banked their compensation. Through some very fortunate circumstances Lennon was available, Hearts and Hibs were beaten and the embarrassment of tossing the season away to a rookie manager in charge of an economic shambles was avoided. Just.
The board has been brilliant with me- Neil Lennon, 16 August 2019
In an ideal world Celtic would be managed by a cosmopolitan manager experienced in the European game, backed by a modest Chief Executive given a brief from the board of directors with a well established scouting network that develops our own players and recruits the type of men needed for the first team.
Today Celtic are nothing of the sort. Everything is run to suit the Chief Executive who gets the thanks of his friends in the Remuneration Committee.
No manager or recruitment/scouting expert of any repute would sign up to a job that amounts to ‘Pleasing Peter’. Do as you are told, answering to a very tight remit.
Lennon knows the script but appears to have handed over the leverage that he had when he entered the showers at Hampden after winning the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts. He hasn’t even been allowed to appoint anyone to his backroom staff.
The Treble Treble side needed four new players for the start of pre-season training in June, adapting into the team during matches in Austria and Switzerland and hitting the ground running for Champions League qualifiers.
Lennon, the club and supporters were let down by a board and Chief Executive who hoped to cross their fingers, get lucky and scrape into the group stage of the Champions League while turning over a massive transfer profit thanks to Kieran Tierney. It rebounded on them spectacularly.
The manager made mistakes against Cluj, had he been given four new signings that he had identified with in June the result would be on his head.
Tragically it seems that Lennon has fallen under the Lawwell spell, despite being failed by the highly remunerated Chief Executive he felt the need to praise the hierarchy at yesterday’s media conference.
“We have to look at ourselves and be united,” the Daily Record reports the Celtic boss saying. “The board have been brilliant with me. The players are hurting but they are hungry to bounce back.”
‘The board have been brilliant with me’. Really?
Even the few remaining apologists admit that recruitment has been poor, the board that apparently has been brilliant has left Lennon with virtually no scouting/recruitment set up as evidenced by the short term gig given to Nicky Hammond who had a significant say in the £13m signing of Oli Burke by West Brom two years ago.
After bailing Lawwell and the board out earlier this year Lennon had some leverage, with that brilliant comment that has been tossed away. When the going gets tough Lennon can expect nothing back from the brilliant board whose sole KPI appears to be self preservation.