Neil Lennon ought to have kept his thoughts about our players to himself last night.
Issues with players who want away should be dealt with behind the scenes and only communicated to the fans when the players in question have had acceptable bids for them in.
In choosing not to though he has created a momentous problem which has only one of two solutions and the first would involve the board doing much more soul searching about its own role in this fiasco than they are capable of doing.
It would involve Lawwell talking to the captain to get a feel for the dressing room, and if there is discord there to identify the cause.
If the cause is the manager himself then that requires a massive decision to be made.
Our board does want that conversation or that decision, because that might cast doubt on their own process – or lack of it.
It leaves only one way out of the mess.
Lennon needs to have a full and frank discussion with the squad and get every player to make a solid commitment to the club. He needs to find out who wants to play for him as well, and those who express an interest in going elsewhere should be put up for sale immediately, for a fair value which reflects their role in the team.
There’s no point in messing about here.
We can’t carry players who aren’t giving their all and it doesn’t matter at this point who those players are.
If they’re done playing for him or for the club then they are no use to us, and we’ll know when they are gone just who they are and we can make our judgement on them accordingly.
But not one of them must be left in the building in October.
Which brings me to the board itself; if those players are going to go then their replacements have to be sourced beforehand.
They have to be quality footballers because that’s what they will be replacing.
We’re in a deadly position here and our foot-dragging over signings is part of the reason why we are, so it has to be done quickly as well.
Nobody, for example, should be thinking that David Turnbull is an adequate or acceptable player to replace Callum McGregor or Christie should they be on the list. Nobody should be thinking he can replace an Olivier Ntcham or that we’ll settle for that.
If one of those guys leaves a new midfield replacement has to be sought. We don’t have to spend £20 million on somebody just because we bring that in … but no kid from Motherwell is going to represent an upgrade when in fact it will weaken the team.
Above all else, players have to be signed quickly. None of this poker-playing over a few quid, none of this dancing around over valuations … if the players are replacing first team footballers who won trebles then we pay the going rate and get them in.
As far as I’m concerned, if reports about Kris Ajer are true today then he ought to have kicked his last ball for the club except that we have lamentably failed to bring in cover for that area in spite of having lost Simunovic months ago.
That is a shocking dereliction of duty on behalf of our money men and football department which is in no small way responsible for the enormous damage that was done to us last night with a single high ball over the top.
They say that victory has many fathers but failure is an orphan.
I’ll tell you right now, if you are looking for people to blame for last night, you can find them at every level of our club. From the person who leaks the team-sheets online to our Irish absentee landlord, there are no shortage of folk to point fingers at … but the top is where we should start.
Because the Chinese aphorism says that a fish rots from the head down, and so it is here.
Some of our directors have been at the club way too long.
CEO’s in corporate settings have a shelf life of five years’ tops … ours has been at Celtic for three times that. We have complacent and arrogant leadership which sees the fans as nothing more than customers, that treats us with cavalier disrespect and refuses to engage with us … this is where the real problem lies.
I look no further than the appointment of Lennon himself, a lamentable decision made in an amateurish fashion, regardless of how it turns out.
We had months to find a top class European coach to maintain the standards of Brendan Rodgers and perhaps even take us further, but we chose to go with who we had in the building, and we have a CEO who openly boasted that interested parties sent CV’s which nobody even looked at. Even if it’s idiotic bravado, from a swaggering egotist, do you think those individuals, having heard that, would ever want to work in the same building as him if another chance to come here arose?
Those comments, which I scorned at the time, have done lasting damage to our reputation as a professional organisation.
And the worst thing about it is that I actually believe it.
It’s not for nothing that there are some who believe Lennon has played a full part in the trouble at Parkhead but who would even now keep him here because they fear John Kennedy would be his replacement. That’s exactly the sort of thing this board would do.
This is not a one-off defeat and it should not be seen for one.
We have gambled time and time again, not in Europe but across the boards. We have failed to replace quality with quality except in a handful of isolated cases and we have a wage structure the consequence of which is that it’s the CEO himself who is, and remains, the highest paid person at Celtic Park.
Chris Sutton said it best last night, but some of us have said until wer’e blue in the face; fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.
Every year we see the same shocking lack of cohesion when it comes to preparing for these games.
Every year we drag our feet on signing players in the positions the manager has identified, publicly, as the problem areas … every year we go into tricky European ties minus the signings we were screaming out for as far back as the year before.
Our record of qualifying is now two successes in the last six campaigns.
And that is a strategic failure at the very top of the house, the result of the same mistakes year on year and from which we never learn.
All of that needs to be part of a larger conversation of course, but the one directly in front of us is not complicated in the least. This season is shaping up to be a war, and there can be no place at Parkhead for those who are not up for the fight and committed to the cause.
Those players who want to go should be exited stage left.
But before that process starts, any board of directors would want to examine whether the discontent was real, whether it was widespread and what the possible causes of it could be, and one that had an ounce of backbone or sense of what is best for the club would take the appropriate action to stop the bleeding … whatever that involved.
Whoever’s head had to roll down the Parkhead steps.
As I don’t believe that our board will do the necessary I can only suggest that it’s time to put blood on the walls of the dressing room and hope the consequences aren’t too great.
And we have no choice except between those options.
The manager has made sure of it.
A big round of applause to the authors of this shit-show.
What a job you’ve done here, the greatest injection of confidence to our rivals that it was possible for them to get.
Those of us who worried that the greatest obstacle to ten in a row was what decisions might be made in and around Celtic Park, that we could only conspire to throw it away … well, I feel pretty sick thinking about it, but we are right on the brink and if we have leaders at all this is when they better come forward.
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