Managers under pressure: the story of the 9


On 25 May 2019 the script went like this: Neil Lennon left Hibernian, by far the better run of the Edinburgh clubs, under a cloud, with various versions of events going round, none of them particularly supportive of our manager.  He was mutually consented out of Bolton Wanderers and the halcyon days of Champions League glory against Barcelona were a seven-year-old memory.

Celtic were transformed under Brendan Rodgers, who left without dropping a trophy after bringing a level of professionalism the Scottish game had never experienced.  By contrast, Newco had a stable ownership structure, management team and a squad which performed better than expected in their first season of European group stage competition.  With a season under his belt, Steven Gerrard knew he had money to spend; this was the time to push the boat out.

It is unfair to say this of a treble winning team, but it is also true that season 2018-19 ended with Celtic looking a bit one-paced.  For all his glory, Rodgers missed more often than he hit the target in the transfer market; the squad looked in need of an overhaul.  For these reasons, at the start of the season I wrote our chances of winning the league were 50/50.

What transpired was one of the most fascinating seasons in recent memory and we’ve had a few of those.  Credit to Gerrard.  Again he outperformed expectations in Europe but this time he outperformed the expectations of many Celtic supporters domestically.  He picked his team off the canvas after Odsonne Eduard and Jonny Hayes teed up Celtic’s season with a win at Ibrox in August, competed twice a week through the autumn before two games against Celtic in December that will long be subject of debate.

Newco wiped the floor with us in the League Cup Final at Hampden.  Tactically, they controlled the game and were it not for a sublime finish by Christopher Jullien and the most impressive goalkeeper performance we have seen in 15 years; their eight-year wait for a trophy would have ended.  Instead, a substitution led to a free kick and a goal.  Celtic then faced an onslaught which both looked impossible to withstand and bizarre in its wastefulness.

What happened at Hampden informed Celtic’s decision-making when the teams met on league duty at Celtic Park three weeks later.  Odsonne Edouard was able to start up front, instead of Lewis Morgan, with the expectation that normal service would resume.  It didn’t.  Newco again bossed the game, this time winning.  Newco had a difficult December but were set for an easier set of fixtures after the winter break.  You, me, Neil Lennon and the players went off on the winter break knowing it could be March before the teams were due to meet at Ibrox and we would have a chance to make regain the initiative.  But going to Ibrox after being handed our arse on a plate at Celtic Park was a daunting task.

This exact scenario was what Newco’s confidence when they Tweeted anticipation for this season minutes after Neil Lennon’s permanent appointment was all about.  The script was written, Neil would buckle under the pressure, Gerrard had responded from the Hampden despair by tactically schooling the Celtic manager and had the means to win the title.

Let the history books show that if Newco were able to hold onto late leads against Hearts, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock, and beat Hamilton and Aberdeen at home, Celtic’s run of successive league titles would have stopped short of the record nine-in-a-row.

For 22 years I have looked back on the shambles that was Celtic early in season 1997-98 and I still cannot figure out how we won the league to ‘stop the 10’.  If anything, this season is a greater mystery.  They did not know it at the time, but all Newco needed to do to win the league was win a handful of games against opposition vastly inferior to Celtic or those they comfortably despatched in Europe.

The pandemic should have been the gift that allowed the title to go to Ibrox without the need to face Celtic a further twice.  But the script was not followed, Neil Lennon coped rather well with the pressure.  Whatever ailed him at Hibs put fuel in his tank.  Celtic were imperious, anyone who wanted their title would have to reach new heights.

At this point Steven Gerrard began looking like the man under pressure.  He questioned his team’s bottle as each reversal brought a new wave of indignity.  Instead of the pandemic gifting him the best chance he will ever have of winning the league, it probably saved his job, as performances could not continue on the path they were for another two months.

Getting things right at a football club is more difficult than it seems, even when you apparently win everything with ease.  Celtic knew they had a battle on their hands at the start of this season, there was no complacency, but there is also a lot of corporate learning built into the Celtic Park ecosystem.  I spoke to Peter Lawwell during the winter break, he was calmer than most of us, “We have the best manager, the best squad and we are going to win the league.”  No panic, just a clear assurance that we stick to plan.

God knows what lies ahead of us next season.  It will be very different in every respect, but no one will underestimate Neil Lennon, or Celtic’s incessant winning strategy.  Congratulations to the manager, players, backroom staff, commercial team, administrators, board and every Celtic supporter who did their bit.  Our second nine-in-a-row was one of the sweetest yet!

Jackie Dziekanowski Celtic top auction

The Walk With Shay Legacy Fund are delighted to bring you a very special auction tonight. We have in our possession a signed and framed Jackie Dziekanowski Celtic top which can be seen here.

This was one of two signed Jackie tops donated by our Polish CQNer, Zbysek in 2009, during the Bringing Martin Home campaign. Zbysek had arranged to meet up with Jackie to get these tops signed. One of these tops was won in the raffle at the grand finale fundraising night for Bringing Martin Home at the Kerrydale Suite in the same year, by another CQNer, Murdoch, Auld & Hay. Stephen sadly passed away last year, and his brother Jim, kindly donated the top to us to raise funds for a future good cause.

We are therefore delighted to announce that all of the net proceeds raised in this auction, will be donated to Strathcarron Hospice, in memory of our good friend Helen Dunese Stewart (Minx 1888), who sadly passed away recently.

To bid, please send an email to walkwithshay@yahoo.com, with your bid (and indeed with a maximum bid if you wish as well). For instance your bid may be £50, but you can also say this will be up to the maximum of £100. So, if a rival bid comes in at £60, your bid will automatically be increased (in £10 tranches) to £70.

The bidding closes next Friday 22nd May at 8:30pm and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards and arrangements will be made for the winner to collect the framed top. We can also arrange for the top to be couriered to the winner, but delivery costs would need to be added.

We will of course, keep everyone informed of the highest bid as we progress during the auction.

Please note, that If you wish your bid to remain anonymous please state this when your bid.

Happy Bidding and thank you.

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  1. Big Wavy


    I’d like to see Forster either signed or his loan extended for 10.


    I’d also like to see Hayes offered a year long deal.

  2. Fellas – Forster ain’t getting a game back at Southampton next season…he’s way down the pecking order behind Gunn and McCarthy….I’d hope he stays but I suspect some brinkmanship from them to force us to buy…



    Jonny Hayes Utility man I guess….



    I’d expect promotions for wee Dembele, O’Connor and Afalobi…

  3. Just on Rodgers – I will never give him a bye-ball for leaving mid season but his contribution must be acknowledged. Lawwell, Lennon, Kennedy and numerous players have spoken of the professionalism he’s instilled in a Celtic Football operation that has won every trophy for four years.



    Lenny has improved us again and done a great job. The levels Rodgers took us to have given us a solid platform for many years to come.

  4. I suspect the biggest obstacle to Fraser signing permanently with us will be his salary. Southampton I think will do business but Fraser would probably be looking at a 50% pay cut.



    I can’t see it happening.

  5. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    No statement from Celtic or Sevco on SFA outcome.



    Sevco would say – old company, not our problem



    Celtic would say…nothing









  6. From Celtic PLC trading update to Stock Exchange today …


    The Club will celebrate the achievement of winning the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership at the appropriate time. In the meantime the Club looks forward to the commencement of season 2020/21; news on the completion of the 2019/20 Scottish Cup; and a lucrative five-year technical kit partnership with Adidas, that will take effect from 1 July 2020, and will initially run until the summer of 2025.

  7. Embramike,


    Adidas is it,i would have thought we


    could have got a premier retail brand like Castore.

  8. theBHOYfromU.N.C.L.E on

    Good to read ‘that it is not over’ regarding RES12 by the man himself Auldheid on sfm site.What next ?

  9. SEAN THORNTON on 19TH MAY 2020 9:25 PM


    Saint Stivs.







    Whit a crackin photo of yer mammy☘.







    Andy Halliday!.





    A supporter who got unlucky!!!…☘






    noy my mammy mate, another mammy of another tim.




    a picture of my mammy around the same time would have had an accordian and orange with purple ribbons in her hair,

  10. Football finances have changed, possibly forever. Clubs won’t be paying the same money in transfer fees as they were before the Coronavirus and wages and signing-on fees etc. will all be a lot less than what they were before



    The likes of Fraser Forster may not have any better options than Celtic, and with things as uncertain as they are at the moment, he may see staying here as the his best offer he will get

  11. Saint Stivs,


    not sure Sevco will be looking for highest quality merchandise,


    looking at the prices they charge for t shirts,


    cheap and cheerful will probably be the remit.



    I feel sorry for Andy Halliday he’s going to miss days like these:






    tom miller and rangers tv commentary is just as funny as it gets.



    genuine my sides are sore.

  13. So the Season ends and we say goodbye to Foster (loan end), Gordon (free), Bruer (swiss) (loan end), Arzani (loan end), Elyounouss (loan end), Hayes (free), Miller (free), Kouassi (sold). Reckon Ajer, ntcham and eduard will be sold if asking price is met and they want to go.



    If all of the above happens next season’s squad would be:





    Frimpong elhammed Julian taylor




    Brown mcgregor




    Forrest christie Johnston













    oxoflex Rogic shved




    soro bitton




    Boli Ralston


    Jozo welsh








    Doolan gk


    Hendry cb


    Perez rb (jan)


    Gutman lb (jan)


    Conner cm


    Robertson cm


    Henderson cm


    Dembele rw/ am


    Bayo fw



    There is a lot of flexibility in what would be a youngish squad but we would need to prioritise the signing of:



    A goalkeeper to replace foster


    A centreback if ajer goes


    A forward if eduard goes


    A Left sided midfielder



    We dont need major changes and should try to minimise player turnover where possible.




  14. Is there a timetable for the completion of our treble?


    Neil Yesterday said all the players are back in Scotland and will resume training in June.


    Assuming we get 5 or 6 weeks pre season like preparation with the possibility of competitive games late July or early August, which players will still be available to play?


    FF loan spell will be over and Gordon will be out of contract.


    Who plays in goal? Broony? 😉I know he wouldn’t hesitate if needed.

  15. I remember being at AGM when they said Res 12 would not be discussed that day. I knew and said then that it was a fix. And Celtic led the backers a merry dance from that moment. Celtic are up to their necks in corruption of 5 way agrrement. why don’t they and all other clubs call ut SFA about 2 sets of rules. One for Huns and one for everyone else. How can this be unless they all agreed.

  16. this also mean they have been given green light for Euro license every year without checking accounts

  17. Res12.



    The moving spotlight.



    What is emerging is that Rangers successors in effect got a pardon for the crimes of their predecessors so both the LNS sham and Res12 were never going to be investigated to see justice done.



    What is nigh unforgivable is that Celtic, having accepted the 5 Way Agreement containing among other things the CAS referral clause that in effect has provided a pardon, not only refused to put the UEFA Licence issue before UEFA TWICE, but insisted their shareholders follow the SFA Judicial Process, which they then refused to question after 2 AGMs, knowing all along that the 5 Way Agreement would prevent justice being served.



    The SFA have now in effect turned the spotlight back on Peter Lawwell personally whose record of deception in terms of saying something to give the impression of being on shareholders side in the pursuit of justice and a reformed SFA, in fact did nothing to follow up when hard evidence was provided.



    The SFA have put Celtic and the governance of Scottish football direct in the spotlight by their statement without an explanation for closing the matter.



    Closure will be obtained if an explanation that sets out whether the licence was processed within the rules in 2011 (and there is one about telling the truth) that there was no breach of two Articles one governing overdue payables, the other an Article requiring Rangers to notify the SFA of any change in circumstances since they granted the licence on 19th April 2011. A change which happened on 20th May six days before UEFA were notified of Scottish clubs to whom licence had been granted.



    All else is avoidance.



    Anything less is dereliction of duty by the SFA to carry out their responsibility to administer THEIR judicial protocol on which the credibility of Scottish football depends.



    When supporters buy an ST for loyalty reasons what assurances can clubs give that the rules on which the game depends are being upheld without fear or favor when Petrie an architect of the 5 Way Agreement, can sit as Chairman on The SFA Board that have decided to stop investigating the basis of the decision by the Licensing Committee that Petrie chaired in 2011?



    Celtic still are answerable to their shareholders at AGMs, which is where this will go next unless they make a statement either that no deception took place and support it or that it did, but in the long term interests of Scottish football they will not pursue the compensation that the evidence at https://www.res12.uk/ suggests they are entitled to seek.



    It matters nought that any resolution gets voted down at an AGM, that is the place where CEOs and Directors are held accountable to shareholders and if it reveals beyond reasonable doubt that shareholders were lied to from 2013, then The Board may still remain in a job, they may be great business men (earning a few bob ) but their continuing presence will rob Celtic of any claim to be more than a club, the emotional tag that drew me back to Celtic after years of enjoying watch my kids play football.

  18. The Huns offered to pay the legal expenses for any “Independent Investigation” into the SPFL Vote a couple of weeks ago…and they are apparently skint ?


    Surely Celtic can fund any Legal Action in relation to RES.12 to CAS ?



    Of course to do so could MAYBE implicate Celtic FC, and that would be why Celtic are happy to see this “Case” dropped, but IF thats true..is it possible for individual Celtic supporters and Celtic supporters clubs to “Crowd Fund”, taking all matters to the CAS ?


    Maybe Rod Stewart and other “Celebs” could also chip in ?




  19. My enjoyment of our second “9 in a row” STILL has me “Over the Moon”…nothing could take that away from me….not even the news about RES.12.



    This is now my 63rd Day of self isolation, I better sign off before I really start to ramble….being sober for 63 days is not ideal




    Stay safe.






    No edit facility , you can ask moderator to delete a post , but most just leave mistakes , and blame fat fingers or bad eyesight , me ? I blame kindle auto correct 😂

  21. It’s gonna be a wee bit burny today so if it’s : taps aff remember cream on 😜

  22. fourstonecoppi on

    Former MP and current peer George Foulkes has requested the UK Government urge UEFA into investigating the SPFL after Celtic were declared champions on Monday.



    Thats one hurtin ‘ultra uber unionist hun’




    I would think that Foulkes complaint is about Hearts being relegated as he is a Jambo, still doesn’t, excuse the pathetic moaning

  24. fourstonecoppi on

    CAMUSBHOY on 20TH MAY 2020 8:42 AM



    Totally……but stil an ‘hurtin uber unionist hun’!😂

  25. Little darling, the smile’s returning to the faces


    Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here


    Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say


    It’s all right!!!


    Good morning, friends from a soon to be warm and sunny East Kilbride

  26. I imagine Celtic will be working hard to bring in Fraser Forster. Don’t think it will be a tough deal to make.



    I’d also like to see Celtic bring in a third-choice keeper. There’s no benefit in stunting Doohan or Hazard’s development so get them out on loan



    The chances of a third-choice keeper ever playing are slim. That’s why you see the likes of Rob Green at Chelsea. You bring in an experienced guy who is effectively an assistant goalie coach.



    Perhaps somebody like Rob Eliot from Newcastle United or Andy Lonergan of Liverpool.

  27. Tim Malone Will Tell on

    When you know that you’re fecked


    Coz its still Sports Direct


    …….that’s Castore



    When you order your kit


    And you find that it’s shit


    …..that’s Castore



    When you’re losing your pitch


    Coz your Mike Ashley’s bitch


    ….that’s Castore



    Feel free to add a verse or two of your own.

  28. I have held the view from the outset that legal action is the only course which may, may, produce a result. How that manifests itself remains to be seen, but I still think that a token case in the small claims court is a possible avenue, with the aim of achieving maximum publicity and, thus, embarrassment to both the SFA and Celtic if it comes to that. Reason: failure of corporate governance and to maintain fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. It would require a legal person to front this to ensure that the small shareholders are able to be represented properly. Any cost would therefore hopefully be minimal, even if the case was lost. I would hope – although not sanguine – that such a prospect might be a catalyst for some appropriate action. It could well be that the best that can be achieved is an admission from the SFA that they were duped, and an acknowledgement that procedures will be rigorously enforced going forward. There is also a possibility of a No Confidence Motion in the Board for the Celtic AGM.


    Enough rambling for now.




  29. AULDHEID on 20TH MAY 2020 1:00 AM




    Bottom line is too few fans care enough to do what is necessary to effect change.



    The Board know that. They’ve always known it. They’re untouchable.



    And they have their facilitators among the support.



    Maybe it was always like this and it’s delusional to think otherwise.

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