NEIL LENNON has offered advice to Ange Postecoglou, his successor at Celtic: “Embrace it, enjoy it and just win.”
But the former Hoops boss also fired a warning to the former Australian international manager he could face some “disaffected” stars.
A clearly disappointed Lennon slammed some unnamed players following the shock defeat from unseeded Ferencvaros at Parkhead in August that demolished their Champions League hopes for another season.
At the time, as CQN reported, the Irishman raged: “There are some players who may want to leave and have made inroads into that in the last six months or so.
“If they are making waves to leave the club they are obviously not committed. I have just put this out there because it has been bugging me for a long, long time. If they don’t want to be here we have to do something.”
The flop against the Hungarians was the start of a sensational nosedive by the Hoops that saw their quest for a historic tenth successive title blown shortly after the turn of the year while there was massive disappointment in the domestic Cups while the Europa League campaign ended in inexplicable home and away defeats from AC Milan and Slavia Prague as the club finished rock bottom of the group.
TAKING A BACK SEAT…Neil Lennon watches in dismay as Celtic drop two points in the 2-2 draw at Livingston in January.
Lennon admitted: “We’d gone from being rampant before the lockdown and when the boys came back after the three-month break a lot had changed in their mindset.
“Some of them wanted to move on which I got because they were on the verge of winning a fourth treble.
“People are saying ten might never be done again, but I was thinking four trebles will never be done again.
“Some of them had reached the top of the mountain and were starting to look over the mountain to a career elsewhere.
“That was understandable, but it creates a little bit of disaffection and tension within the group and there was some of that, there was no question of that.
“I mentioned it after Ferencvaros. These players are still at the club and I’d imagine they still do (want to leave).
“But they’ve got a good manager in. Ange will go in with his eyes wide open and with a fresh pair of eyes and fresh philosophy then players might buy into it.
EURO OUT…new keeper Vasilis Barkas looks back in horror as Ferncvaros score the second goal in their 2-1 Champions League success at Parkhead in August.
“I think Eddie Howe was first choice or talks had been ongoing for a while. Everyone uses words like ‘disaster’, but it’s not – the club is okay and the players are okay.
“He’s got a blank canvas and it might take time for him to put his own stamp on things and get the style of play he wants.
“I wouldn’t be worried about it if I was a Celtic fan, I’d be excited by it. Ange should embrace it, enjoy it – and just win.”
Lennon admitted the attitude from some players was a concern last season, but the financial impact on the game caused by Covid made it even more problematic.
He told BBC Scotland at the Euros : “We were in the throes of a pandemic, so it’s one thing these players wanting to go. And before the lockdown finances diminished outside of super clubs who can afford.
“We had one bid for one player and it wasn’t anywhere enough. We decided we couldn’t sell for that sort of money and wanted to keep them on and try and manage them through the season.
UP IN ARMS…Ange Postecoglou celebrates a goal for the Australian international team.
“It was very difficult for them and for us at the time. The mindset of the players, I felt, for maybe a few of them was that they had done their bit and when you have that malaise it’s hard to get it around again.
“We did try to sign players like Ivan Toney, but couldn’t get the deals done, for whatever reason.
“We brought in players. Some didn’t do as well as they could have done, but they were living in different times.
“Some were coming from different countries, going into the training ground and weren’t seeing anyone else and then going home and sitting at home alone.”
Celtic paid £5million for striker Albian Ajeti, from West Ham, £4.5million for keeper Vasilis Barkas, from AEK Athens, and agreed a £2million temporary transfer for centre-back Shane Duffy, from Brighton. None of the deals was a success.
There are already rumbles this summer that Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie, who is out of contract in January, will be on their way while Kristoffer Ajer has made it clear he wants to move on.
New gaffer Postecoglou is expected in Glasgow next week. He has much work to do in double-quick time.