NEIL LENNON admits it’s a “test of character” as he faces repeated calls for his removal as Celtic manager.
The Hoops boss has been in direct line of some fierce criticism as the team’s bid for a historic tenth successive championship has crashed in a maze of mistakes.
Lennon is carrying the can for the truly disastrous summer recruitment that saw Vasilis Barkas arrive from AEK Athens in a £4.5million move which made him the most expensive keeper in the club’s history. Unfortunately, on the evidence so far, it has been a spectacular waste of money on the Greek international whose save rate is abysmal.
Albain Ajeti, rejcted by West Ham gaffer Davie Moyes, cost £5million, but it took him until Tuesday night to score his sixth goal in the 4-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
There may be mitigating circumstances for both Barkas and the Swiss frontman failing to convince, but the bottom line is that they have not delivered.
And Lennon, who kept hold of top stars such as Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie, three players who had been key performers in the record-equalling ninth consecutive crown, must have believed he had added genuine quality to his successful squad.
However, the Hoops fans have been enraged with the team’s inexplicable nosedive that has seen chances of another flag triumph all but blown before January was out.
OH NO…fall guy Vasilis Barkas sees another shot hit the net.
Lennon’s former team-mates Chris Sutton, as CQN reported earlier today, John Hartson and Stiliyan Petrov have all said it is time for their old mate to vacate the Parkhead hot seat.
It’s been a challenging period in the 49-year-old Irishman’s long career and he admitted he has learned who his real friends are as the campaign has gone off the rails in an unexpectedly dramatic fashion at home and abroad.
Asked what he has learned in the midst of such chaos, Lennon answered succinctly: “You know who your friends are.
“It’s a test of your character and you learn more about putting things into perspective, not getting too high or too low.
“I’ve learned a little bit more about my players, as well, about their characters and personalities.
“It’s not been a lot of fun for them at times, it’s been very difficult for them, but we’re not the only ones affected by this.”
OH NO…Albian Ajeti grimaces as another chance is missed.
The manager has stated often enough his team have been suffering through the lack of fans during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “We’re not exclusively affected by that. You can see it elsewhere in the UK and throughout Europe, although some clubs have adjusted to it better than we have.
“The fact we’ve scored more goals away from home speaks for itself. Liverpool have lost their last three home games after going unbeaten for 68, so maybe they’re suffering a little bit as well. There are other examples.
“It’s not the whole reason, but it’s a huge part of the explanation. You analyse it and we need to do that for the players going forward if it’s going to be like this next season.
“We have to adjust and adapt a whole lot better than we have done this year, if that’s the case.”
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Motherwell at Parkhead this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.