DEFIANT Celtic legend Davie Hay insists the fallen champions WILL rebound from the disastrous season that has cost Neil Lennon his manager’s job.
The Hoops ambassador knows the pain of losing the Parkhead gaffer’s post after departing in 1987 – one year after guiding the team to the title.
And Hay realises Lennon will be hurting and asks the supporters to remember what he contributed to the club, both as a player and a manager.
Celtic book author Alex Gordon, who co-wrote the club icon’s autobiography ‘The Quiet Assassin’, spoke to the 73-year-old to get his views on the dramatic turn of events in a CQN exclusive.
“First up, this is a sad day for Neil,” stressed Hay. “We are talking about a genuine Celtic man here. I am aware of how it feels to lose the job as Celtic manager.
“Neil has done so much for the club. No matter of how disappointed the supporters – and I include myself among them – are with the way things have turned out in a disappointing campaign, we should not lose sight of what he has done.
PRIZE GUYS…Celtic ambassadors Tom Boyd and Davie Hay with the league trophy.
“He has won 10 championships – five as a player and five as a manager – and that is simply phenomenal. It seemed fitting he was the man in charge when Celtic achieved the unprecedented quadruple treble in December.
“Neil is now up there with Jock Stein, Martin O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers as a Celtic manager to deliver the domestic clean sweep.
“That’s why it is so hard to take what has happened this season. Really, it has been inexplicable. No-one saw it coming.”
Hay continued: “There is always awesome pressure on a Celtic manager to bring success. Even more so, when it looks as though you are playing second fiddle to Rangers.
“That will never be tolerated by the fans. In my day, it was bad enough if you were toiling to compete with Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen or Jim McLean’s Dundee United, two exceptional sides with European results to back up their qualities, but the pressure grew when Graeme Souness arrived at Ibrox and started to sign massive cheques for England internationals such as Terry Butcher, Chris Woods, Graham Roberts and others.
“So, second to the team from Govan is just unacceptable. It looks as though Steven Gerrard is going to guide them to their first title in a decade, but I sincerely doubt if he will have the continuous success enjoyed at Celtic in recent years.
THE LONG WALK…a disconsolate Neil Lennon after Sunday’s loss to Ross County.
“Look, I realise there is a massive rebuilding job to be done at Celtic, players will be coming and going at a fair old rate before the new season.
“So, it will be a huge task for someone coming in, but it CAN be done. It’s clear, though, that my old club need to get a new manager in place as quickly as possible.
“For whatever reason, we have been slow out of the tracks in the transfer windows. We should have had everything in place by the time we played Ferencvaros in August, but we didn’t look settled and it cost us our Champions League place.
“That was a sore one – and not just financially although we are talking about something in the region of £30million which would be most welcome during a pandemic lockdown. It’s another dent to pride because, let’s face it, Celtic are a Champions League team, but we have been missing out far too often in recent years.
“You have to earn the right to mix with the big boys in the European elite and Celtic should be up for that challenge every year. AEK Athens, Cluj and the unseeded Hungarians have dumped us in the past three years. Obviously, that’s not good enough.
“It’s clear we cannot afford to get caught cold again. That means getting things put in order right NOW.“
THE WAY WE WERE…outgoing chief executive Peter Lawwell and club supremo Dermot Desmond.
Hay added: “I have every faith in Dermot Desmond. You do not become a multi-billionaire by making too many bad decisions and he got it absolutely spot on when he brought in Martin O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers.
“Those were ambitious appointments and I am convinced he will be working towards a quality replacement for Neil.
“I see a whole list of names being brought forward and you know 99.9 per cent of them have absolutely no chance of getting the post.
“There will be someone out there who will be tasked with the enormous job of getting Celtic back on track.
“I am confident the right man will appear and then the hard work of putting the jigsaw together will kick off in earnest.
“I predict Dermot Desmond WILL deliver.”