Neil Lennon leaves, regrets and records

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When Brendan Rodgers left us in the lurch in February 2019 we were fortunate to be able to turn to a known quantity in Neil Lennon as interim boss.  His first week was totemic, wins at Hearts and Hibs sent him on the way to the league and Scottish Cup, completing our third successive treble.

Neil took the job on condition he was considered for the permanent position.  Celtic agreed, but I doubt they expected he would get the job.  Ultimately, hopes of attracting another tier one candidate were dashed, as you and I occasionally observe, Never follow Sinatra.  Few wanted to fill Brendan’s sunbed.  The choice was between Neil and an earnest candidate who had won promotion to the Premier League in England, before relegation and unemployment.  Neil was thought to be the better choice by the club for what would be a pressured season, but it is fair to say there was consternation when the announcement was made after that famous Cup Final win over Hearts.

The fourth consecutive treble, by now an expectation in some places, was not as easy as previous seasons.  Newco’s loss-inflated side reached their first final in five years, got to the last 16 of the Europa League and led the domestic table in January.  After defeat at Celtic Park to their challengers on 29 December, Celtic won every game for the remainder of the domestic season in league and cup.  It was a fantastic response from a manager who looked to be on the ropes.

More impressively, a difficult Europa League group was won; famous victories over Lazio will live long in the memory.  Last season, Europe also provided a portent of troubles ahead; an inferior Cluj, eliminated Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers, Copenhagen amazed themselves by doing the same in the Europa knockout rounds.  Something was not right.

The capitulation this season has few precedents in our history.  Despite retaining all key members of the side, ignominious defeats arrived in waves.  Ferencvaros, Sparta Prague, twice, Ross County, twice, Newco at Celtic Park without making an attempt on goal.  The Europa League group was an omnishambles until Neil rested players for a dead rubber against Lille and discovered talent waiting in the stands.  This helped his cause but not his reputation.

I don’t buy the theory that were disproportionately affected by lack of fans, we made a series of missteps, in magnitude no greater than at the start of Brendan Rodgers last season in charge, but this time our challenger scarcely lost a goal, never mind a game.

With the direction of travel well established, there was a window to change manager in the autumn.  When I argued the case to act for the good of Celtic’s season, I was counselled on the need to attract a manager who would work for a club who will sack a manager that’s never lost a trophy and had only lost one league game.  There would be some takers, but not the ones you want.  I believe this avenue was considered.  Our options were John Kennedy as interim or a candidate miles out of their depth.

Among the many emotions Neil Lennon will feel today, I am sure a sense of disappointment in how he was treated by some among us.  As well as giving us some great days, the worst that can be said about him is he made several bad football decisions.  After what he has been through to be a Celtic player and manager, his treatment in places was atrocious.

I remember Jock Stein’s last four seasons, that produced only one league title, not to mention Gordon Strachan’s four, which resulted in only one league loss.  Both were hounded by uncontained angry fans.  The only difference now, is that the uncontained have social media to organise around.  Neil, is in good company.

He will undoubtedly experience relief, but Neil has opened up previously on his fragilities, I suspect he will be haunted by regret, one of the more pernicious human emotions.  However, as the Chairman of the Board once noted, ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few, but too few to mention..   The record shows’, NINE-IN-A-ROW.

Neil, thanks for Lazio, Rennes, the leagues and cups and the many euphoric victories.  I cannot imagine how difficult on a personal level this has been, but the very best of health for the future.  You will never walk alone.

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418 Comments

  1. P67 — who does the counselling?

     

    Could you please ask them to stop as they talk some amount of tripe.

  2. Pingback: Neil Lennon leaves, regrets and records | Celtic FC News Now

  3. No Bobby Does It Petta on

    No revisionism or sentimentality from this fan, Paul. I’m glad he’s gone. My only regret at Neil Lennon “resigning” is that he didn’t do it months ago. He was never fit for the job in the first place.

     

     

    This season has been a disaster, at times embarrassing. Lennon put Lennon before the good of the club. He, and Lawwell, will forever be remembered as the guys who blew the ten.

     

     

    Kennedy and Strachan must follow him out the door at the earliest opportunity.

     

     

    HH

  4. Well put Paul. Lots to reflect upon in that offering. For me Lenny will always remain a legend who always gave his all despite the circumstances.

     

    Time to move on though and get the next legend in place.

     

     

    HH

  5. No matter the failures of NL this shambles is down to one individual — PL.

     

    He is responsible for this footballing disaster — his ego was / is to blame.

     

     

    Happy that NL has decided to go.

     

    Now he needs to be followed out the door by SB.

     

    This season has demolished both their reputations.

  6. Turkebhoy

     

     

    “We also have a dark underbelly,far to similar to the Huns across the City,and its been on display,far too often this season.”

     

     

    We have always had Green Huns but , in recent seasons, I feel the number has grown but that might be just because Social Media makes me more aware of them.

     

     

    Incidentally, why was Ten so important? Has any other team won nine twice?

  7. “The choice was between Neil and an earnest candidate who had won promotion to the Premier League in England, before relegation and unemployment. ”

     

     

    i’m sorry, no, I tried to get through it but this is where I actually said the words “oh that is such BULLSHIT” out loud. In all of football management we had TWO choices?

     

     

    Absolute cobblers, absolute bollocks, an utterly fraudulent statement.

  8. Count me out!

     

     

    The word loyalty is used often when describing Neil Lennon, and I wonder how much thought is given by those using the term.

     

     

    When managing Hibs, in the 4-2 game two seasons ago, in his criticism afterwards of the referee, Neil said that Celtic had a twelfth man on the park, (or maybe it was fourteen).

     

     

    Around the same time, just after we had been on the receiving end of a series of rank bad refereeing decisions, Celtic actually took an initiative, and were influential in arranging a get-together of managers. At the meeting, Hibs manager Lennon was appointed spokesman. It should have been a heaven-sent opportunity for a “loyal Tim” to possibly influence the poisonous refereeing culture in Scotland, raise the prospect of professional referees and, however unlikely, maybe having referees from outside Scotland. We never heard another word about it.

     

     

    Whether it was within the remit, or not, any self-respecting Tim, hurting from generations of blatant refereeing, would have, as spokesman for the managers, managed some comments to that effect. Neil has never been slow in the past at getting to a microphone.

     

     

    My last point is that, only recently, Neil fell in behind Gerrard in his public appeal call for fairness(!) from referees. (That’s when my parallel universe feelings started).

     

     

    I have seen many managers of Celtic come and go, through triumphs and disasters, but never have I known one to be so at odds with the deep-down feelings of the support as regards “The Old Firm”.

  9. Who is this Paul?

     

     

    “an earnest candidate who had won promotion to the Premier League in England, before relegation and unemployment. “

  10. Ten was incredibly important.

     

     

    Let’s not rewrite history that it didn’t matter to most (if not all) Celtic fans.

     

     

    We imploded big time, at the wrong time.

     

     

    How many of you might not be around in the next possible attempt in 2032?

     

     

    HH

  11. As Neil Lennon leaves Celtic for what I hope is the final time, it’s only right to acknowledge his contribution as a player and a manager and say thank you.

     

     

    It’s also important not to go down the road of his beatification at the expense of the reputation of the support.

     

     

    Neil, for all his troubles, leaves today a multi millionaire.

     

     

    Many thousands of working class people have paid a significant sum to support their club this season, they had every right to expect higher standards than those we’ve seen demonstrated by Neil Lennon and the board.

     

     

    I look to the future now in the hope that never again will I witness the support treated with such contempt as that which we’ve seen this season.

  12. The decline on the pitch has been dramatic.

     

    Fitness levels and performance .

     

     

    The negligence in not giving Soro a start till a meaningless game in November is a prime example of Neil being stubborn.

     

    Playing the same 11 that failed against Fernavacos , in the following game , compounded the belief that it became about him rather than the team .

     

    Football is a result driven business. Our results ( and performances) were rotten. He paid the inevitable price.

     

    I don’t have any malice towards Neil Lennon and wish him well in the future.

     

    The game has moved on , tactically, with the science available and how to get the best from players .

     

    Neil didn’t move with the times .

     

    Neither have Celtic as a club. We’ve stagnated .

     

    Today is all the evidence you need.

  13. “ Last season, Europe also provided a portent of troubles ahead; an inferior Cluj, eliminated Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers, Copenhagen amazed themselves by doing the same in the Europa knockout rounds. Something was not right.”

     

     

    I would suggest that it might have been a good idea to replace the manager at that point. Maybe Peter Lawell could have called Dermott Desmond and said, “Maybe the dissenting fans were right after all. Maybe we acted in haste at Hampden by appointing him in the showers. I mean, he’s only gone and played Callum at left back and put a team on the park that conceded four goals at home when we were through at 0-0 and twice after that.”

     

     

    It only took another 18 months for the geniuses that run our club to do the right thing.

  14. jimbob71 & little Miss jimbob on

    I said a few months back when there looked serious discontent and disconnect in the dugout if JK had been promised a more hands on role to learn the job with the promise of taking the manager’s job after Neil had gone at the end of this season but had been slapped down by Neil.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Maybe Neil wasn’t listening to his thoughts and ideas and Neil sticking to his tried and trusted ways.

     

     

    Now when it comes to fitness, we have said some of our players aren’t fit, can’t last 90 mins etc.

     

     

    JK is a fitness freak. His physique is unbelievable so you would assume fitness is high on his priorities.

     

     

    Unfortunately for him personally, he only has 8 games to show what he could be capable of but regardless of how it plays out, no fan will want him in situ come the start of next season.

     

     

     

    All ramblings in my head only of course.

  15. Ray Winstone's Big Disembodied Heid on

    The future direction of the club is the only thing that matters now with the 2 L’s either out or heading out the door.

     

     

    Let’s hope the new CEO has hit the ground running, even though he isn’t officially here yet.

  16. Just a bhoys game….

     

    Thanks Neil you gave us plenty highs over the years, you’re Celtic to the core. Of course we’re all disappointed at this season’s efforts but whilst the manager carries the can ultimately, I believe other circumstances have coalesced & not in our favour. All good things come to an end & we can only hope we’ve had 10 years bad luck condensed in to one season. Imho our club from top to bottom, owner, CEO, players, coaching staff, manager, bloggers & supporters are all guilty of under estimating our greatest rivals since December 2018 when BR lost at ipox.

     

    Let’s change our mindset asap.

     

    HH ☘️

  17. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Two down, one to go. Although I suspect the third will be significantly harder to shift which means we will be stuck in the self-limiting confinement of old firmery for the foreseeable.

     

    Neil Lennon’s 38% trophy win rate in his first spell – at a time when the second best team in the country was Stuart McCall’s Motherwell was hardly anything to get excited about. There’s 101 managers who would have taken the job and most would have won the league more convincingly than Neil did. If there were only two people considered then something (or someone!) has gone badly wrong somewhere.

     

    We didn’t need Pep Guardiola. All we needed was a proper coach who could develop players and continue what Brendan Rodgers had been doing. That would have allowed us to move on some players knowing we would have others coming through.

     

    I suspect we will see Neil in a media role from now on, although there may be the odd offer from EFL2 where quality coaching is less important than getting players fired up.

     

    Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him back at Celtic as manager sometime in the future, next time we find ourselves too far ahead of our partner club.

  18. So in May2019 after 4 months we could only come up with 2 candidates.

     

    Frightening

     

     

    I take it the other candidate was Alex Neil.

  19. And still it goes on.

     

     

    There are twitter accounts still abusing the man. The image of NFL in the NO GO traffic sign absolutely disgusts me.

  20. Celtic don’t invite applications for the job of manager. There would be dozens of applicants and it’s possible you would find a good one. But DD will be saying to himself Find Another Irishman, or failing that, some mediocrity like Alex Neil.

  21. AN DÚN on 24TH FEBRUARY 2021 12:32 PM

     

     

    Agree with every word you wrote. This Board took our money and we didn’t get into a game. As one misery was piled on top of another they sat on their hands, hid, failed to communicate with us and let the support tear itself apart over the manager. They are a shower of shysters and charlatans.

  22. TIMMY7_NOTED on 24TH FEBRUARY 2021 12:19 PM

     

     

    Rock Tree Bhoy on 24th February 2021 12:12 pm

     

     

    Really? Give the man some respect.

     

     

    ________________________________________________________

     

     

    Was never any good at false platitudes, just so relieved that he’s gone,

     

     

    he probably will be as well, head for the golf course Neil, clear your head, plan your future.

  23. Celtic Football Club Statement: Neil Lennon resigns

     

    By Celtic Football Club

     

     

    Share

     

     

    Celtic Football Club today announced that Neil Lennon has resigned from his position as football manager with immediate effect.

     

     

    Neil has served the club with distinction as both player and manager, delivering numerous successes, most recently completing the Domestic Treble in December. In his second period as Celtic manager, he has achieved five trophy successes, to add to his three League titles and two Scottish Cup victories in his first period as manager.

     

     

    Current assistant manager, John Kennedy, will take interim charge of the team.

     

     

    Neil Lennon said: “We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously.

     

     

    “I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

     

     

    “I have always given my best to the Club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters. The Club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.

     

     

    “I would like to thank so many people at the Club who have given me so much and I would also like to thank my family for their love and support. I wish the Celtic supporters, players, staff and directors nothing but success for the future.”

     

     

    Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell added: “I would like to pay tribute to Neil for all he has done for the Club in his second spell, delivering our eighth and ninth successive league titles, the Quadruple Treble and winning the last five available domestic trophies.

     

     

    “Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard.

     

     

    “I have watched Neil fight many battles over many years, on and off the field, with a courage and tenacity few could match. Even this season, he has fought so hard and worked tirelessly to turn things around.

     

     

    “While this season has not progressed as we would have liked, it cannot diminish the character or integrity of a man who has given the Club so much.

     

     

    “Personally, it is a sad day for me to see Neil leave the Club. Neil is a man of quality and decency, he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed at Celtic Park.

     

     

    “On behalf of everyone at the club, and personally, I would like to thank Neil for his work as our manager and I wish him and his family good health and continued success in everything they do.”

     

     

    Celtic’s principal shareholder Dermot Desmond commented: “Neil is a Celtic legend both as a player and manager. He has given so much to the Club, and with his success over the last number of years – including winning a Treble in his own right – he will be very difficult to replace.

     

     

    “We thank Neil sincerely for all he has done for the club and we wish him every success going forward.”