For many Celtic fans, making the trip to our national stadium should be an exciting journey and occasion . It should be a day to see the team marching towards yet more silverware. It should feature a Celtic side showing bags of enthusiasm and displaying a will to win. It should be backed up with a passionate support by their side.
But this is Lennon’s Celtic at Hampden. The attributes above simply do not apply when The Gaffer and his demotivated squad make their way to Mount Florida.
How can the we gee ourselves up for games there now, when it’s obvious the players on the park aren’t ?
Yesterday, you had guys who have excelled in the Champions League games just going through the motions like it was a bounce game. St Mirren were up for it from the off and caught us out. Some of the players seemed as if their focus last week were on celebrations for Gary Hooper’s birthday and not the semi final of the League Cup. These players are good, very good, but they will never go down as Celtic greats at this rate. It seems to me like these guys are happy with just one trophy per season instead of one or two more. Winning trophies and collecting as many medals as possible should be their biggest motivation to burst a gut at Hampden, yet yesterday they seemed like they’d rather have been already knocked out at an earlier round and watching two other teams on TV.
We don’t have a divine right to win games, no matter how superior our resources are compared to every other club in Scotland. We do however, expect to see highly paid individuals put in a shift for 90 minutes. Even for 45 minutes if that’s too much, but all we got was ten minutes out of them.
It was, frankly, unacceptable.
Throwing away a treble like it’s a piece of overchewed gum is a disgrace. For me, Neil Lennon stills gets away with a lot when we blow it in these matches. Gordon Strachan, deservedly, came in for venomous abuse after achieving unwanted records on a monthly basis in his tenure but THE GAFFER doesn’t seem to get anywhere near the stick Strachan got. I’ll say one thing for Strachan, he knew how to motivate his teams at Hampden. League Cup final wins in 2006 and 2009 as well as a Scottish Cup in 2007 is testament to that. When we reached Hampden under Strachan, the team knew silverware was in sight and didn’t think twice about collecting it. This was with players who were far less talented than the ones we have just now. However, what they lacked in composure and natural ability, they made up for with a hunger and desire to be winners and make it over the line when they’re so near to achieving success.
For a team with a multi million pound training complex at their disposal, the manner in which they struggled to pass and move yesterday was alarming. What did they do all week ? Watch the video of THE GAFFER’s phonecall BANTER with the journalists wife ? Lennon himself said they acted like ‘spoiled kids’ and he’s probably right there. Guys like Larsson, Petrov and Sutton all had to train at Barrowfield and time and time again they delivered on the pitch and won several honours while at the club. They were winners. Pure and simple. The Instagram generation we have turning out for us these days probably won’t ever be able to hit the heights like those guys.
Yesterday, Lennon once more blamed everyone else except from himself. The ‘Hampden bogey’ was blamed, the players were blamed and the team bus not having enough padding on their seats was more than likely blamed too. Of course, our manager won’t ever come out and say keeping Charlie Mulgrew on the park after his disastrous first half was a mistake. He won’t admit the lack of creativity in the team needs to be rectified. He won’t come out and say he doesn’t have a plan B when things aren’t working out. After the Kilmarnock loss, the ref was blamed for denying us a penalty, not Anthony Stokes failing to hit the ball it first time. After Hearts, it was ‘personal’, but no blame at all for taking our eye off the ball and putting ourselves on the backfoot within 60 seconds of the second half. It’s getting tiresome and far too convenient to not point the finger at him.
At 2-1 down yesterday that was it – finished. You could see we weren’t getting another goal. Absolutely deplorable.
He does hold a considerable amount of power over the more gullible segment of the Celtic support though. Some of our fans have a cheek to slag off Rangers supporters blind following of Charles Green when, no matter what Neil Lennon does, he’s so untouchable he should get in touch with Brian De Palma. I’m not saying I want him out the door, but when you look back at all the missed opportunities he’s spurned, including blowing the chance to win the league at Ibrox (again – his fault when he picked Cha and Ki for such a powderkeg fixture) you have to question him, yet on our mutual social media site, you’re in the line of fire from the ‘GBNL’ mob if you dare to voice your unhappiness at yet another failure.
“Last 16 but!” and “We beat Barca!” can only carry you so far. Strachan achieved successive Last 16’s yet still faced the wrath of the support for a tedious brand of football appealing to sadomasochists. Yes, Neil Lennon deserves credit for progressing from a tough Champions League group, but in football management you’re only as good as your last game and right now, Lennon’s got to pick us and himself back out of the gutter with three points against Kilmarnock on Wednesday.
I’ve been criticised on here for not being ‘balanced’ towards Neil Lennon in recent months. After yesterday’s shambles, I would say I’m more than justified to be pissed off with how this squad of players, under his management, churn out complacent performances all too often when it really matters.
I’m fed up of seeing us on the losing side at Hampden.
Player ratings from yesterday – all 1’s with the exception of Scott Brown, who got pass marks.
G B N L .