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. EL nail hit on head, this is two fingers to the Res 12 bhoys and their supporters. Shameful from the board H H Hebcelt

  2. Celtic PLC should do this now, and Celtic PLC should do that now, open your eyes folks, Celtic PLC are one of the main accomplices in all this. They knew that with the 5 way agreement in place Res 12 was going nowhere, it was always driving towards a cul-de-sac as the PLC was the Sat Nav! Going forward means excluding the PLC from any input. por cierto.

  3. 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


    You’ll soon hear the hype


    about a big orange stripe


    ….that’s Castore


    It resembles a sash


    Cause they want your cash


    ….that’s Castore

  4. What an outstanding football team we have. History will judge them well.



    What a spineless bunch of charlatans we have in the boardroom. Lies and bluster. No doubt we will read the usual pish from the usual folk re how difficult it is to effect change and that we are in unprecedented times.



    As a (now remote) fan, I continue to support my club. As a shareholder, I feel badly let down over our corporate governance.



    Time for a new broom. Time for the liars to go

  5. Let’s be honest, referring this to CAS is a waste of time. All that will happen is that CAS will question the SFA, the SFA will argue that they trust the clubs to be honest in their dealings with HMRC, which leads to RFC who are a defunct club and there endeth the case.



    The whole, horrible truth will only come out once the current incumbents are long gone.

  6. When you tried out for Nike


    And they said “On yir bike”


    That’s Castore



    When you asked Adidas


    And they said “Kiss my Ass!”


    That’s Castore



    When you got on to Puma


    They called you a Zoomer


    That’s Castore



    Then you went to Reebok


    -struggling for a rhyme here:-

  7. Auldheid, Ernie Lynch, I do believe that enough fans care, I wish I was rich, I would fund a case myself. However as a very small man I am more than happy for Auldheid to set up a legal fighting fund, I will be more than delighted to contribute £100 per month for as long as it takes, Feck the CSFA & any incarnation of them, do it Auldheid, pull the trigger. a family like no other does not lie to it’s family in this manner.

  8. Then you went to Reebok





    -struggling for a rhyme here:-



    and they just laughed and mocked


    that’s Castore




    Kicking off early with the summer transfer sound-bites.



    Last summer, practically on a weekly basis, Lenny was quoted saying that he was expecting 2 or 3 in, in the coming days. It became tiresome.



    Therefore experience of our transfer windows, tells me not to read too much in to this latest soundbite from Lenny.



    Now more than ever, is not the time to stand still Celtic.



    By my own estimations, we will need :



    1) A Goalkeeper, if Forster can’t rejoin us


    2) Our achillies heel at the back all last season, right-footed Ajer playing at left centre-back. Therefore I would suggest we need a left footed centre half


    3) Right back position. 2 good players, Frimpong and El Halmed… But can either nail the position down. Stay fit long enough, for a concerted amount of time


    4) Left-back…. can any of the candidates prove themselves to be No.1 choice ??



    5) Expecting another 50 + games out of Broony next season would be madness. Maybe even 10 iar suicide.


    Whats the succession plan concerning Scott Brown ?



    Above, just some of the transfer considerations for this summer. To my mind.



    Hopefully we don’t stand still

  10. The Battered Bunnet on

    Nicely done SFTB.



    Strikes me they’ve got such a mountain to climb simply to survive that it’s a wonder they don’t go to North Face

  11. in relation to the Castore song it can go on and on thwere are a huge amount of brands. Adidas, , Nike, Timberland, Puma, Reebok, new era, basics, converse, Mizuna, Slazenger, Sondico, Umbro, lotto, Prince, Dunlop, Lonsdale, golddigga, Rip Curl, Arena, Speedo, voodoo dolls, Karrimor, Coleman, Hitech, topeak, etc.

  12. Ruggyman



    Purchase or loan Fraser Forster.


    Sell Jozo and Ajer and buy a £7-9m left footed CG replacement.


    Look to El Hamed as either CH cover or RB mainstay


    Promote O’Connor and have Frimpong fight it out with big Tam


    Stitch Taylor (better defender) together with Boli (better attacker) to get half a Tierney. Or bite the bullet & replace.


    Let’s see Soro ffs. More of Henderson too and reduce Broonie.


    Bring back Paddy Roberts.


    Loan in Moi again or Brady from Burnely.


    Keep Eddy and Ollie for the ten.



    Easy peasy this…

  13. How do you reconcile a disruptive sports brand for fit and mean athletes with images of big fat Billy sitting on a deckchair in benidorm chanting out his bile, is beyond me….

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

    …of course, Pedro might just be deciding the best course of action for the integrity of the game here, and will come out all (legal) guns blazing once the issue has been fully considered from all angles, etc…



    …to be fair…






    Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to have your faith restored, and see that Celtic could stand strongly for proper, fair, even-handed governance of our game?



    Even if their attempts were thwarted by the SFA cabal, how good would you feel to see them at least making the effort to push this all the way?



    At least say, publicly, that what the SFA are doing is wrong, un-transparent, partisan, cowardly – whatever. Point out the inherent flaws in a governing body that is accused of wrongdoing to kill the investigation into their own murky practices.



    You are left feeling that you are just raging, pointlessly, into the wind.



    The success on the field is great but, for me, it just doesn’t feel like the Celtic cause that we grew up being a part of.






  15. Res 12 – JohnJames recommending we boycott all SFA games, National Team, Scottish Cup. National Team’s easy but a hard one not seeing Celtic lift the trophy when there is so much at stake re records etc. por cierto

  16. John James site not missing and hitting the wall about the corruption at the SFA and their historical connivance with Rangers. ( Btw, who is this guy?)

  17. My friends in Celtic,



    We have all witnessed the joy that a Celtic 9 in a row brings.


    Additionally it is generally accepted that the statements from Peter Lawwell and Neil Lennon have resonated with the Celtic support.



    This is unpresideded times , survival and prosperity of our club is paramount.



    Deeply unfortunate about Res 12 and especially for the four protagonists. But circumstances have overtaken events.


    IMO, Now is not the time to destabilise our club.



    I realise that other will feel differently with justified reason.



    HH to all,especially Auldheid.

  18. Cliftoncelt, I have followed JohnJames since he used to post on the London stock exchange, sometimes his insights are absolutely fabulous and he comes out with some cracking exclusives. Slates Phil as a plagiarist & sometimes can be a bit up his own erchie! He did claim that Lenny had not got the job & was only given it at the last-minute in a dramatic turnaround by Dermot Desmond. I like him, others seem to really hate him, everyone to their own.

  19. The Battered Bunnet on

    If you’re still reading John James’ guff, I have $50 Million of Nigerian treasury bonds I need to park. Just send me your bank details and a scan of your passport and I’ll get right onto it.

  20. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Just watching that fud Douglas Ross representing the government in Parliament….very appropriate

  21. Step back and amuse yourself with the rage of the huns.



    It’s therapeutic.

  22. Will we get a new article today perusing the machinations of yesterday’s SFA decision, or will this one be left up?


    Sweep sweep

  23. GREENPINATA on 20TH MAY 2020 11:48 AM



    ‘Deeply unfortunate about Res 12 and especially for the four protagonists. But circumstances have overtaken events.’








    Never waste a good crisis?




  24. BIG WAVY on 20TH MAY 2020 12:19 PM




    ‘9IAR feelgood didn’t last long, did it ?’






    Mark 8:36

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