From the moment Neil Lennon was announced as manager, one line of defence has been proposed for him over and over again; he is the man who knows how to get us to 10. This rationalisation for a dreadful decision is so full of holes I don’t think they require pointing out.
Except that, as I said, over and over again this argument is put forth, and so perhaps they do.
The case is put forward by many of the same people who point to our current era of success and try to lay the credit for it at Peter Lawwell’s door.
But I don’t remember him scoring many goals or saving many penalties or standing on the touchline making split second tactical decisions to change a game. I remember managers doing the latter and players doing the rest.
His job ought not to involve the football side of things in the slightest, and that he does poke his nose in where it doesn’t belong so often that the press writes this crap is only a small part of the problem here. Let me put it this way; when Manchester City won their second successive title last season, I did not read the name of their CEO or any other member of the board in the newspapers.
Instead, the credit went where it belonged; to the team and to the coaches, the people paid handsomely to do that job.
This has to be the only club in football where the CEO is constantly showered in praise by the media and by some of the fans for the signing cheques. That so many people accredit him with all this is frankly ridiculous, and it’s also dangerous because it feeds into his own level of delusion, his own self-perception as the real architect of all of it.
And the more he believes it, the tighter he grabs onto the controls.
The truth is, this guy is a pen pusher and bean counter and should be nowhere near the football operations. A strong manager like Rodgers would never allow it; that was a big part of the reason for the clash between the two.
Rodgers wanted Lawwell to do the job Lawwell is paid for and to leave the football side of it to the professionals.
Let’s be brutally honest for a moment; there are many ways of getting to 10 in a row.
If it was all you cared about, if it really was the be-all-and-end-all of football existence for you then we could achieve it simply be doing what they are trying to do at Ibrox, and blindly throwing every available penny in the bank at it, utterly heedless of the consequences.
Here’s the question; would you take ten in a row if you knew that by the end of the following year the club would be in administration and suffering all the degradation and shame that went with that? If you say yes then really, there’s not much point in you reading much further, and I’d not willingly enter into a conversation with you on this subject.
Believe me when I say this, there are fans over there who would, without reservation, take another Ibrox administration if it meant stopping us. And that is how parochial and small-minded and frozen in their thinking that lot actually are. It is madness.
Celtic fans do not expect our club to risk its future, or even its stability in the short term, for ten. So the idea that we would sacrifice anything for it is, of course, nonsense. The question as to whether we would sacrifice European football for it is just as stupid though.
The simple truth is that we don’t have to accept one or the other; indeed, the very opposite of that is true.
You know what would have put ten in a row in the bag?
You know what would have guaranteed it?
This board appointing a European manager and giving him the tools to get our club into the Champions League Groups.
Do that, and who the Hell in Scotland was going to stop us?
The idea that hiring Lennon gave us the best chance of securing the ten, when a properly financed coach from a higher bracket, in control of the football operation, would have blasted through Scottish football and given us a shot at progress beyond this league should be obvious to anyone with more than a dozen functioning brain cells.
Build for Europe and the SPL takes care of itself.
I don’t mind most of the people who continue to bat for Lennon and who reckon that Lawwell made the best move for the club by hiring him. They are passionate, and when they make their case you can tell they are well intentioned.
I do mind those who make that case on fundamentally dishonest grounds and the “Europe or the ten” argument is the dodgiest of all of them, and whenever I hear it I think automatically that the person making it is at it, that they are trying to excuse the board’s lack of ambition and imagination and that they must reckon myself and others are complete mugs.
This is always boiled down to one simple question; when they chose Lennon, whenever that was, whether in the Hampden showers or way, way before, did our board of directors put us in the best possible position to maximise our chances of success? And the answer to that has always been a resounding no, and nobody would seriously argue otherwise with a straight face. That they were so cavalier about it makes it a thousand times worse.
If disaster hits us here, don’t let anyone tell you it was an accident. We’re here because of choices. Don’t ever forget that, whatever comes next. Some of them are dishonest choices, such as this lie that we took the “option” of putting the ten before everything else.
Had we done our business correctly, nobody would be worried about the ten.
Nobody but those at Ibrox who are prepared to risk everything to stop it and who would already know that it won’t be enough.