Amidst the events of the last week and the way they segued into the weekend’s football, I kept fully abreast of every comment the manager made in relation to last Sunday’s game.
And I explored them all at one point or another except one.
I left that one aside for a very specific reason; it demands an article of its own and this is it. The part I found to be most intriguing is when Lennon spoke about Gerrard at length on Friday, and accused him of using inflammatory language.
Now, had Lennon stopped there I would have thought nothing of it.
I said the same myself in an article earlier in the week.
But Neil went much further than that.
“He has no right to use inflammatory language. I’m not happy about that,” the manager said. “He needs to look after his own business. What (he) should be talking about is the lack of discipline in his team … and (their) lack of respect for the game. It sounds like someone is winding Steven up from the back. I have been attacked on the street. I have been the victim of people sending suspicious packages and throwing coins and I was assaulted in a stadium.”
I found those comments intriguing, and in no small part because it had dawned on me to wonder if Gerrard was allowing himself to be steered by others inside Ibrox. His comments became increasingly bizarre and ridiculous as the week went on, and some of it was so flagrantly ridiculous he must surely have known he was talking garbage.
So why did he continue to do it? Was he put up to it? Our manager’s comments certainly suggest that he thinks so.
You could say that Neil was being flippant, and that those comments had no deeper meaning.
But I doubt that.
The manager knew exactly what he was doing.
He had time to think about it, and he would also have spent time with others inside Celtic Park who would have wondered just what the Hell the Ibrox manager was playing at.
Let’s be honest; Gerrard is nobody’s idea of a great thinker and if he was being fed his lines by somebody else at the club it would not be the first time. On the opening weekend of the campaign, he embarrassed himself with an ill-judged rant about how there had always been bias against the club.
Where did that nonsense come from? It came from inside the walls.
Someone had been in his ear and he had coughed it all up without a seconds thought.
Celtic’s top people know what the atmosphere inside Ibrox is like; believe me, they know. I will do a fuller piece on that at another time, but all I’m going to say is that the word “contempt” is too mild for how they view the dysfunction, the irrationality and the delusion at the heart of the club across the city. Lawwell in particular know that someone feeding Gerrard paranoid nonsense is perfectly in keeping with the way they conduct their affairs.
So who, specifically, was Neil Lennon referring to?
In truth, it could have been one of many people inside the Ibrox walls, everyone from the chairman to the kit-man and the media people in between. All of them are steeped in the insanity and the bile that surrounds and engulfs that club. Nothing would surprise me, and I suspect nothing would surprise our manager either. But if it reeks of PR spokesman sweat that’s hardly a surprise. They have been using deflection as a tactic for years now.
As per usual, none of it worked.
The Ibrox boss got his ban, Kent got two matches and Morelos got four.
Celtic secured the three points and five more wins us the title.
The only person who was actually damaged in all this was Gerrard himself, who’s spell in Scotland has reduced him in the eyes of many south of the border. His snarling countenance will be remembered. His pandering to hate will not be forgotten, not even by those who count themselves as his friends.
And so we’re left with that mental image, the one Lennon conjured up with those comments; Gerrard as a grinning fool, a nodding dog, churning out lines written for him elsewhere, no matter how bad they make him look.
Between that and the record he’ll be left with when he finally departs Ibrox stage left, he might never manage at a senior level club again.
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