Keith Jackson has claimed that Peter Lawwell failed to find a replacement for Neil Lennon back in October.
After losing the Glasgow derby without mustering a shot on target Celtic’s season went into a tailspin. AC Milan handed out another lesson in the opening Europa League tie, Aberdeen scored three times at Pittodrie before a two goal lead away to Lille was squandered.
The summer signings had failed to make any worthwhile impact while Lennon’s confession after the Champions League defeat from Ferencvaros that some players wanted to leave lingered on.
Locked out fans screamed for change on Social Media but as Lennon tried to put on a brave face at his media conferences it is claimed that work was going on behind the scenes to bring in a new boss.
A phone call to Brendan Rodgers is likely to have been the first stage of due diligence for anyone approached but as results continued in a depressing pattern the club decided to hope for the best by promising fans a managerial review.
In today’s Daily Record, Jackson claims:
Don’t think for a second Lawwell wasn’t looking around for available managerial options back in October when Celtic’s bid for 10 in a row began to hit the buffers.
Only the most naive would believe anxious top-level conversations were not taking place when the fans first started storming the car park.
It can be logically concluded he found no such options existed. Short-term fixes such as Gordon Strachan and Martin O’Neill will almost certainly have been part of these discussions.
For a variety of reasons neither of these previous managers were viewed as viable alternatives and probably not least because of the strength of the relationships they shared with the very man they might have been asked to replace.
It’s possible, although perhaps less likely, Lawwell also looked for longer-term solutions to the more immediate problems Lennon was facing around that time.
But it would have been hugely difficult to enter into serious discussions with any ambitious, upwardly mobile manager unless Lawwell was in a place to make assurances as to the size of budget that might’ve been made available.
With the financial consequences of the pandemic burning through Celtic’s accounts like a wildfire, it’s hard to envisage how any high- calibre candidate could have been convinced to rush to the club’s rescue, just as 10 in a row was beginning to smoulder.
Despite a brief run of wins in December and again in February there was nothing convincing about Celtic’s performances despite the superlatives used by Lennon after mundane wins over Motherwell and St Johnstone.
Defeat at Ross County turned out to be the final Mowbray Moment but as Lawwell prepares to follow Lennon out the door his legacy will be why did he leave it too late to save the Ten?