Posted on Thursday, 27th December 2012 by admin
As 2012 draws to a close, I have decided to have a look at how Neil Lennon has fared, both on and off the pitch, it’s fair to say things have been quieter for him than 2011 was.
When Neil Lennon looks back at his career as Celtic, it will show that he had two huge successes in 2012 – the winning of the SPL, and the qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League. Even though winning the league was inevitable once Rangers went into administration, it should not be forgotten how well Lennon had done to turn a fifteen point deficit into a four point lead before Rangers were deducted points. The league was won in some style too, as we won 6-0 at Kilmarnock and beat Rangers 3-0 in the last ever Old Firm derby. When it comes to this season’s domestic form, things seem to have improved after an indifferent start, and at the time of writing we are seven points clear with a game in hand.
European football has probably provided the highlights of the Lennon era so far, and it seems incredible that the same Celtic team who were 1-0 down at home to HJK in the third qualifying round have qualified for the last 16. The long awaited away win in Moscow and the already legendary win over Barcelona at Parkhead will live long in the memory.
When it comes to team selection, for the most part Lennon has done a good job, Kelvin Wilson has overcome a difficult first season to become one of the most consistent players at the club, Georgios Samaras has turned into a Champions League talisman for the club and Gary Hooper has kept scoring goals despite not always playing well. The emergence of Tony Watt has also been a boost. The only real problems seem to be the continued shoehorning of Charlie Mulgrew into the team into a variety of positions, – in my opinion his best is at centre-half – and the lack of a creative midfielder. Hopefully that will be addressed in the January transfer window.
The manager’s signings in 2012 have however been hit and miss. Pawel Brozek, Miku, Rabiu Ibrahim and Lubos Kamenar have to fall into the ‘miss’ category, Miku in particular has been disappointing. However, Efe Ambrose – despite a few lapses – has turned out to be a decent player so far and Lassad has always looked good when he has played. Mikael Lustig has turned up to be an excellent signing, his marauding runs down the right wing are often a highlight. The signing of Fraser Forster on a permanent deal has been the best bit of business, as the big goalie was superb in the Champions League and when he leaves Celtic we should get millions for him.
The only real disappointments that Lennon endured on the pitch was the failure to land the domestic Treble that seemed to be on a plate, with Celtic failing to turn up against a limited but battling Killie in the league cup final and playing poorly against Hearts in the Scottish cup semi, although it can be argued we were cheated by some very poor refereeing in that game. However, Lennon’s reaction to both those defeats was immature, running onto to the park to confront the referee after the Hearts game and doing similar against Killie after a last minute penalty was – in my opinion rightly – denied. The recent spat with a fan against Killie and the manager’s ill-advised presence on Twitter also haven’t done him any favours.
So, despite what misgivings I may have about Neil Lennon, it can’t be denied that in most aspects 2012 has been a very good year for him. Let’s hope that in 2013 he manages to add to the two trophies he has won as Celtic boss and the Treble is won for the first time since 2001.