Bloodthirst to sack a scapegoat


Two years ago, it was Neil Lennon under pressure.  Celtic were on a course to lose their first league title in a decade.  Fans were unable to attend but a few turned up anyway to boo and harass.  Confidence was low and the siege that soon surrounded the club didn’t help.

I spoke to ‘sources close to the club’ after the 2-2 draw at Easter Road in November 2020 and suggested, ‘You’re probably going to lose the league, but if you change manager, it might not be too late’.  Changing manager sounds easier than it ever is, but once you make that decision, more difficult questions arise.

When Neil eventually left in February, we promoted John Kennedy as caretaker.  John could have taken control earlier and generated something of a dead cat bounce, but that change was not going to transform Celtic from losers to winners.

If we sacked Neil after that draw with Hibs, we could have gone to market trying to recruit a replacement for a manager, who at that stage, had won 100% of the domestic competitions the club competed in during his tenure.  It is one thing to sack a failed manager, but sack a manager who had never failed because some fans demanded it?  Proportionality of response is required if you are to be taken seriously by serious candidates.

Managers all know the script when it comes to the pressure clubs are under to sack someone when results go south, and they always go south at some point. Celtic didn’t sack Neil that autumn, he left by his own hand with the season’s business overwhelmingly settled.

The problems we had that season were far from limited to the manager.  The goalkeeping situation was a disaster zone, as was central defence.  We had a defender, midfielder and striker all in the final period of their contracts and wanting away.  Jock Stein himself would not have been able to parachute into that mess and turn things around.

After a very lengthy and circuitous process, Celtic eventually recruited an outstanding talent who has transformed every aspect of the football operation.  The recovery worked out better than any of us could have hoped.  Still, we lost THAT league title.

There were a few reasons why Celtic didn’t sack Neil Lennon early that season, when the writing was on the wall.  The man responsible knew he had to subsequently attract a replacement who was able to work the kind of magic Ange Postecoglou delivered.  That is not easy.  We did so with Brendan Rodgers, but when Brendan left, the recruitment job was much harder.  We ended up with Neil, more than appointed him.

I think if a Brendan Rodgers-type candidate was there and prepared to come, Celtic would have made the move earlier that season.  This was not the case.  None of the options convinced anyone at Celtic that they were going to rescue a season that was so badly out of kilter.

Instead, the club looked to the horizon and planned how to put Celtic back on top as quickly as possible.  Changing the manager in haste was not material to this, so Neil did the hard work and got on with the job to the best of his ability.  For the record, those of you who spent time yesterday reminiscing, 10 years after beating Barcelona in the Champions League, might consider he was a talented manager.  Many worse options were available in November 2020.

Looking back on a successful recovery, this makes sense.  At the time, most people just wanted a clearly failing manager sacked.  When things are going wrong, we want action, often without considering if the most likely actions will only make things worse.

I cannot believe the bloodthirst for Giovanni van Bronckhorst.  Less than six months ago he took a team of journeymen to a European final, one they would have won bar a remarkable save two minutes from the end of extra time.  He then beat PSV Eindhoven to qualify for the Champions League group stage, again, a remarkable performance.

The problems at Newco are not all his doing.  He lost his best players in the summer and was given little of the proceeds to replace them.  His team are aging and, like some in the Celtic squad of season 2019-20, have an eye on the door.  He is also up against a formidable Celtic.  Sacking the manager will not fix any of this.  But still, the demands for action could scarcely be stronger.

Having watched how Celtic kept their eye firmly on recovery in November 2020, it is easy to look around at the mistakes of others.

Newco are surrounded by many worse options that sticking with van Bronckhorst, and I doubt they have genuine faith in a way forward that they believe will knock Celtic off the podium.  They can sack a manager who achieved spectacularly for them, or face down some entitled fans.  It will be a measure of their board if they are prepared to take abusive flack personally when a scapegoat is available.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7

  1. Ernie





    And the support won’t meaningfully challenge the board because it would likewise have too many downsides for them.





    Surely you mean us – or are you not one

  2. GENE on 8TH NOVEMBER 2022 12:02 PM







    And the support won’t meaningfully challenge the board because it would likewise have too many downsides for them.












    Surely you mean us – or are you not one







    Nowadays I’d probably be more accurately described as a fellow traveller or sympathiser than as an active supporter.



    So I am therefore free of any accusation of enabling or endorsing the board.

  3. I hope Nicholson and Company get the finger out to get better enclosed eating facilities outside the stadium there is no time waste as Winter is very fast approaching,I find it deplorable that a club based on charity treats there ordinary fans off all ages with nothing but contemp

  4. glendalystonsils on

    If there are many worse options than GVB out there , I do hope the Sevco board are panicked into going for one of them . They already have a shite team with a half decent manager , I would love to see them pairing a shite team with a shite manager .

  5. GVB already looks like something of a Toom Tabard. The sevco board love playing to the gallery.


    I have no doubt they would replace him if they could.


    That they haven’t, suggests they cannot.

  6. bournesouprecipe on

    Bit of complacency creeping in , Celtic are in the lead but that’s all. Two more games till half time, Gio is a lovely person and a top top coach, dontcha know?

  7. glendalystonsils on




    We can be as complacent as we like , secure in the knowledge that Ange and his players certainly won’t be .

  8. The desperate huns have plucked a ‘Glamour Friendly ‘ out the air for December, the mighty Bayer Leverkusen…….they will need the cash,( i bet it’s cash only) ,to pay off the manager and his entourage




    But whit happened to the Ange Homecoming Money?🤓

  9. Intresting article Paul. although on the dawn of the the season to clinch the 10, you will not find one piece of negativity from any Celtic source on the strength and depth of the quality of the squad.

  10. Paul



    Waiting for Lennon to resign and announcing a review that was never published (happy to be wrong on this) doesn’t look like strategic planning to me.



    After Cluj in summer 2019 was the time to act to save the 10. Realising early doors that you made a mistake on an appointment looks more decisive than giving him oodles of funds to waste over 2 years



    When we get it wrong, it doesn’t necessarily mean the club are incompetent but equally when it goers right, like now, it doesn’t automatically mean we are a well oiled corporate machine. It’s a football club, not BP



    Lots of luck involved I think



    Hail Hail

  11. bournesouprecipe on

    The curious case of Tom Rogic.



    Released early at his own request a big summer move failed to materialise before a belated move to the Black Country after the window had slammed shut.



    Not selected for the latest World Cup squad, don’t think he’ll be that bothered somehow its a football downhill slope after Celtic heroics.

  12. Looking at the Sevco websites says a lot about the challenges their board faces in appointing a new coach



    Dyche or Bielsa for most bears, funny for different reasons.



    They were very lucky to have a young ex player, who was out of work, and had experience of winning a better league than ours and who was prepared to come. Very unlikely to happen again.



    Not unlike us after Rodgers their fans have a raised expectation of what’s possible. They won’t get a European coach with GvBs profile again anytime soon. WGS apart I can’t think of any successful managers in the last twenty years, until now, who haven’t had a genuine connection with either club.



    They’re in a worse position than we were, they’ve become entirely dependent on selling season tickets in order to remain competitive. They have to find someone who both appeals to the nutters and can be successful straight away.



    Their accounts could show that even in a good year any new coach won’t have money to spend. No saleable assetts either



    They should stick with him, they won’t get anyone better.

  13. I spoke with a reasonable Sevco supporter (I know) last week and he is convinced that their biggest problem has been injuries to key players.

  14. Maybe they’ll prove us wrong and come up with as smart and creative a choice as we did with Ange. They did well with Gerrard, although you could put all of his success down to us blowing up and there being no pressure on him.



    You don’t get the impression they’ve got anything other than another big gamble in them

  15. I’m pretty indifferent to what happens at Mordor but agree with the point that GVB is as good as they can get.



    I like Neil Lennon and respect his service for our club but I have two lasting memories of him.



    2006 on a car ride he was interviewed by the radio and I was blown away by how thoughtful, considered and articulate his comments were.



    2020 after some bad results, his response was I don’t know what’s going wrong?



    For someone smart enough to know the effect of those words, it seemed like he had given up.



    The silver lining to that unfortunate outcome was Ange. I don’t think we’ll ever hear him say he doesn’t know what’s going wrong, Neil was the wrong guy at the wrong time.

  16. CONEYBHOY on 8TH NOVEMBER 2022 12:42 PM



    There always is luck involved but theres also hard work.



    You could say we were lucky that Ange worked out, but also that we were smart enough to have identified someone as good as Ange who was able to step in the day after Howe bailed out



    You could say also we were unlucky that having done all the work to get a coach in who’s sitting third in the EPL today we only lost out because his coaching staff wouldn’t come to Scotland

  17. During the covid empty stadium season 20/21, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The 53,000 who renewed season books started watching events from the sofa and finished viewing from behind the sofa. And, as an aside, Peter Lawwell helped himself to a million quid salary to rub our noses in it even further. A shameless charlatan like no other.



    As P67 says, 10th anniversary reminders of the famous win over Barca. Also 3rd anniversary of 2-1 win away to Lazio. Neil Lennon gave us quite a few memorable nights in Europe. Still waiting for Ange to do the same.

  18. Tom McLaughlin on

    I was watching the film ‘Messi’ on the BBC iPlayer. Among many stars interviewed, Henrik Larsson spoke of a training session at Barcelona when he first saw the 16-year old.



    “I said to my best friend and team-mate Giovanni van Bronkhorst – who is this little guy? He told me – that’s Lionel Messi from Argentina.”

  19. Southampton are about to appoint Nathan Jones as their new head coach. He’s exactly the sort of young coach who could potentially do a great job with the Orcs, what he’s achieved on a low budget and his tactical style would mean he’d probably do well in Europe as well



    His devout Catholicism and his Sistine Chapel tattoo would probably rule him out though

  20. PICINISCO on 8TH NOVEMBER 2022 8:33 AM



    Thanks for that detailed reply.



    My view is that Scottish Officials + VAR = A much less enjoyable experience.

  21. Interesting lead today…



    Is this a tale of being lucky or unlucky? Or is it a case of Celtic being run by an egotistical and indolent Board.



    The facts – Not supporting Brendan Rodgers, replacing him with Lenny, giving Lenny the position full time, not sacking Lenny in a timely manner, appointing another caretaker, a series of poor decisions



    And this was just on the managerial side, on the squad management, facilities management, backroom management, academy management – you name it, it was slothful.



    Our luck changed when our CEO changed, that was not coincidental.



    Totally agree on GVB, my thoughts are The Rangers are doing a well overdue season of consolidation and will back the manager in the summer, maybe even January.



    Managing expectations and not getting trounced in the old firm derbies is going to be key to GVB being in position come the end of the season.



    Hail Hail

  22. Celtic40me


    He of course went to Stoke and failed to turn round their fortunes.


    He seems to suit Luton – not sure he’ll do anything at Southampton except oversee their relegation.

  23. prestonpans bhoys on

    CONEYBHOY on 8TH NOVEMBER 2022 12:42 PM



    Totally agree 100% he just played us along, you ask your backroom staff if they want a Glesga gig immediately, did they say give us two or three months to think about it😵😱



    Moreover can we get away from this crap that Kent nearly won them the final. The ball had crossed the bye line when it was passed to him. If he scored var would have been invoked.

  24. Tom McL –



    That Messi programme was amazing for the footage it showed of Messi when he was 7 years old or so.



    He had nearly all the technique already.



    Reading about the possibility of a ticket exchange scheme.







    I would be delighted with that development as I would be able to get rid of my season ticket seat for games against sevco.





    I did ask about the possibility of having these removed from my season ticket when sevco got promoted but was told that the only way was to give up my own seats and buy seats in an area of the ground that didn’t include thst fixture.




    Can I offer up a POSSIBLE Solution to benefit us BOTH ?


    Depending on ” WHERE” your Seat is in Celtic Park ( I cant climb too many stairs), I would like to suggest that IF youa re happy to ” SELL” your seat for games against Sevco. I could buy the Seat from you prior to these Two Games….and possibly any Cup Tie against them ?



    If we agreed, I could meet you in Glasgow a Day or two BEFORE the game and we would swap the Seat for Cash ? I wouldnt wish to leave such an arrangement until the Day of the game IF possible ?



    if agreed, I would get myself to Celtic Park as early as possible by taxi, and gain entry to The Sports Bar. after the game, I would again try and enter the Sports Bar for at least a couple of Hours, and then Phone a Taxi to take me to another pub or Home , once the main volume of the crowd has long departed ?



    IF you are interested, then please let me know on here ASAP, and thereafter you could get my Email Address/Phone Number from The MOD/PAUL67 ?



  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7