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Lawwell’s web of control is out of control

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This morning readers of the Daily Record, Daily Mail, The Times and Herald/Glasgow Times can read the thoughts of Martin O’Neill on Social Media among other things.

His defence and support of Neil Lennon is entirely understandable especially against any personal abuse that has been directed against him online. Yes, it has happened, some Celtic fans are easily whipped up and influenced but none of them will have suffered as much as Neil Lennon for being an employee of Celtic in the best wee country in the world.

The things that Lennon has gone through are an afront to decency. As a person he deserves the support and admiration of every Celtic fan, as a football manager he is open to criticism and there are plenty of valid grounds for that. The nasty Social Media that O’Neill has contempt for, despite no known Social Media accounts, has thrown up many valid and justified criticism.

Much of this can be traced back to May 2019 and the amateurish way that Lennon was appointed as manager.

Even the smallest club with the most obscure signing turn it into something of a production. Video clips and pictures are used, it is trailed and teased before a choreographed announcement.

But not Celtic. Within an hour of Scott Brown lifting the Scottish Cup a meeting was held in the Hampden dressing room with Peter Lawwell appearing for an unscheduled media conference soon after.

The video really is chilling. No other candidates were considered or approached if you are to believe the words of the Celtic CEO.

Lennon has many qualities; in February 2019 he was almost unanimously the choice of Celtic supporters to come in as caretaker manager. Fortunately he had left Hibs a few weeks earlier in circumstances that were never made clear.

The qualities that he has are also a drawback. He rallied a squad and got them over the line, clinching the Treble Treble but his style of management is dated, a more sophisticated manner is required especially with a squad that had blossomed under Brendan Rodgers.

As the outgoing manager had discovered the influence of the CEO is all consuming. One wanted John McGinn the other preferred Youssouf Mulumbu.

One set up a deal to bring in Cristiano Piccini then found that his CEO had tried to alter the payment plan allowing Valencia to sign the defender from Sporting Lisbon.

Rather than bring in a central defender and sell Dedryck Boyata before the World Cup Finals a saga evolved, the agent appeared at training, the defender refused to play and by the end of the 2018/19 season Rodgers and Boyata had both left- alongwith Champions League football.

Anyone in any doubt that control had been wrestled from Rodgers only has to look at the horrendous list of January 2019 signings. Oli Burke. Timo Weah. Marian Shved. Andy Gutman. Vakoun Bayo. Manny Perez. When Shved was speculated on Rodgers’ patience was broken, a month later he was sitting in the King Power Stadium.

When Lennon came in he had no new players for the pre-season trip to Austria and Switzerland. Mikael Lustig, Filip Benkovic, Emilio Izaguirre and Cristian Gamboa had left since his apointment at Hampden. He did have an influence in signing Chris Jullien but Boli Bolingoli spoke to Celtic TV before the team manager.

Just like the previous campaign that ended in Athens, Lennon was trying to piece together a team during Champions League qualifiers. Cluj joined Maribor, Malmo and AEK Athens in the recent Toll of Honour.

Lennon’s managerial qualities shone through during the 2019/20 season with Fraser Forster and Moi Elyounoussi signed after the club waved away £30m from the Champions League. Having only Odsonne Edouard as a striker for the first half of the season he won a League Cup with LEWIS MORGAN at centre forward while Elyounoussi and Jonny Hayes started the final well short of full fitness.

The constant influence of the CEO has come home to roost this season with Lennon’s time-span as manager over. His methods aren’t working, once again the club went into Champions League qualifiers trying to knit together a team. There were no new signings at pre-season training in Loughborough or for the matches in France. Scott Bain was backed up by Conor Hazard and Ross Doohan.

Four months later the season is falling apart, a perfect storm has arrived with the club ill-equipped to cope, not even with the highest paid CEO in British football, it is doubtful if there is a package of salary and bonus comparable across Europe.

Late on Monday night a former Celtic View reporter revealed to the Herald/Glasgow Times that Lennon wouldn’t quit and that he retained the backing of Celtic’s hierarchy.

Twenty-four hours later the same source has obtained an interview with Martin O’Neill that has deflection stamped all over it.

Rodgers found the job impossible to do to his standards and found an escape. Lennon is coming to the same conclusion through another route. When he leaves the spotlight will be on the CEO to find the sort of caretaker that he uncovered in February 2019. Unfortunately for him there is only one Neil Lennon.

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