NEIL LENNON is no longer trusted by the support as the man to take Celtic forward.
That is the brutal assessment by his former team-mate Chris Sutton who insists the faltering champions have to get their act together NOW as they plan for next season.
Plus the former Hoops striker reckons the playing squad must be “ripped apart” as they start again following an extraordinary and shocking capitulation that has seen a season that promised so much in summer obliterated amid dreadful team performances and unacceptable individual displays that have ensured the bid for the historic tenth successive title has been buried under a rubble of mediocrity.
Sutton acknowledges the chance of reclaiming the championship is already gone as he asks questions of the promised January review that has yet to be made public.
The one-time England international said: “All sections inside the club were going to be looked at during this process and that includes the manager Neil Lennon and the recruitment side, which is headed up by Nick Hammond.
“I felt there had to be a clear decision made one way or another on Neil and Hammond by this point for the very reasons I have just outlined.
“It can’t be simple to make plans for a few months down the line if you haven’t decided who is going to be in post.
“Fans need to be energised. They are toiling for hope. It’s been decided amongst the fan base that Neil is no longer the man they trust to take the team forward and Celtic need to address this fact.
“Selling season tickets is going to be hard enough in the spring after what has happened this season with not getting into games and watching some atrocious displays on their laptops.
SNOWED UNDER…Neil Lennon watches Celtic draw 2-2 with Livingston last month.
“I’m afraid to say they’ll struggle even more to shift books if Neil is still in charge when they go on sale. That’s the unfortunate truth.
“Peter Lawwell needs to take action while he’s still in charge because the supporters, and not just the outspoken ones, are not behind Neil anymore.
“Dominic McKay can’t be going into his post with my old team-mate still in charge. He’ll be on the backfoot before he even starts.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Victory at Kilmarnock in midweek was decent, but I watched last weekend’s loss to St Mirren and you can see it’s gone.
“No matter how much my old colleague fights, it’s a fight he can’t now win and it’s been that way for a while.
“Celtic need to start moving and there needs to be confirmed thinking. You have to have hope there is a major plan behind the scenes.
“Maybe it’s all in hand and the grand re-design will be unleashed in the spring.
“If there’s not, it’s a huge problem because, for a start, that dressing room needs ripped apart.
“Some of the chat after Olivier Ntcham’s move to Marseille summed it up. Neil said he was fed up. Jeremie Frimpong couldn’t get out of the door fast enough.
“There will be others. The delay of two years in Ntcham moving is proof the club lost direction in the market. Blinded by the prospect of history and losing millions by a failure to sell at the optimum time.
A BHOY ALONE…Neil Lennon suffers in silence in the Livingston dug-out.
“Hopefully, there will be a return back to the model which has been so successful in the past before it was all sidetracked and lost during the obsession with winning Ten In A Row.
“The loan players will all likely return to the parent clubs. Mohamed Elyounoussi, Shane Duffy, Kenny and Diego Laxalt are in that boat.
“Also, there is a likelihood that Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer are going to get big-money interest.
“Scott Brown is not getting any younger and there is going to be interest in Ryan Christie. You can’t tell me Celtic are not going to need another goalkeeper, so the guts of the squad could be ripped out.”
Sutton added: “In the past fortnight, Neil has called out Leigh Griffiths for fitness. Barkas and Albian Ajeti for work ethic. My question would be, what has been happening in training?
“Players like them not fit. Players like Ntcham not happy. No wonder the season has been a disaster.
“Celtic need to take decisive action very shortly. They should really have done it by now, but the fact they haven’t means it’ll need to occur sometime very soon.”
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Motherwell at Parkhead this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.