It is the job of any Celtic blogger to be frank in offering an analysis of our club.
It is not my job to tell people that fairies live at the bottom of the garden, or that their wee bag of seeds will actually grow a beanstalk.
I frequently accuse the Ibrox fans of denying reality.
I’m damned if I’m going to do it myself, although I know that there are a lot of our supporters who will try to this morning.
The truth is, we are a club with some serious problems behind the scenes.
A grown up conversation about those problems is required, quickly, immediately, before they get worse but I do not believe that it is a conversation some of our supporters are ready, or will ever be ready, to have.
My view on how best to handle this is to be like Alexander walking up the Gordian Knot … screw messing about, just get out the sword and solve it in one clean sweep.
There have been tensions bubbling away behind the scenes at Celtic for a while now.
There were signs of this, and we didn’t ignore them.
We just didn’t put them all together in a way that gave us the full picture.
Last night, Neil Lennon unleashed the demons and the full picture is now depressing clear.
The problems we have at Celtic Park will only be resolved when some people leave … and it is the duty of everyone who wants to have this conversation to ask if Lennon should be one of them; indeed, the question is, should Lennon be the first one to go?
I’ve been concerned about Lennon since before this campaign began.
I’ve had concerns about Lennon, of course, since before he was confirmed as manager … and I made that abundantly clear on the day he got the job.
But Lennon’s domestic management record was, and is, sufficiently good enough that I never really had concerns that we wouldn’t win the league.
I harbour those concerns this morning.
Over the course of the last few weeks, those concerns have been steadily growing based on a number of things.
It began right at the beginning of this campaign, when he turned up for training looking quite scandalously out of shape.
I know he’s not a footballer but how many top managers to do you see on the touchline looking like something that rolled out of a kebab shop?
I remember thinking that it reeked of indiscipline.
And oddly enough, indiscipline has followed, starting with the players.
E-Tims did a fantastic piece on this whole thing this morning, and they made one very salient point; last season, when Bolingoli decided to sod off home in a taxi after being told he was being dropped at Rugby Park was the moment he should have been told to find a new club.
The lack of a disciplinary sanction is what encouraged him to think he could do the same again, only this time in far more perilous circumstances.
Leigh Griffiths should have been told to find a new club with him after his own health protocol breach and this website has been saying that since the start.
Lennon defended Griffiths, as he has many times before.
The days off training that the squad gets … that directly led to Bolingoli getting on that airplane and it’s another issue which this site has raised, and it goes back to last season.
Where is the extremely professional coaching set-up we had under Rodgers?
We have a skeleton crew at Lennoxtown.
Damien Duff left months ago, and do what?
To go and be assistant manager at the Republic of Ireland? It’s a part time job.
He couldn’t be convinced to hang around?
His replacement barely has his feet in the door … but to me, we’re still well short of the standards we had when Rodgers was here.
Do the players look fit to you right now? Do they seem motivated?
I’ve started the last two match reports in the league by talking about how disinterested and lax some of them look.
There is clearly some deep discontent at Celtic Park and you could see that before Lennon spectacularly confirmed it last night.
Where does that discontent begin?
Is it all about money and players wanting more?
What’s changed this summer from every other summer since the EPL was rolling in dough?
What’s the difference?
Why are so many of our players in a hurry to get out the door?
Do they see a corresponding fall in professional standards at the top end of the club?
And yes, I include the CEO because if our club self-detonates over what happened last night, and Lennon has well and truly lit the fuse, then I am going to hold Lawwell accountable for all of it, because the “strategy” – including the hiring of the manager – is entirely in his hands.
The concerns that many have expressed about what’s happening behind the scenes at Celtic, and I’ve talked about some of them including the manager’s total disinterest in involving himself in any transfer related business, are not unknown to the CEO.
If training sessions aren’t up to par, he knows it.
If the manager is letting certain players walk all over him and flaunt the club’s discipline code, Lawwell is well aware.
If the manager’s own standards are not up to snuff, the chief executive is not blind to that fact
Yet he hides.
Where was he over the last four weeks, with the Bolingoli story raging in the papers?
Who leads our club right now?
This question was asked in the aftermath of that affair, and I do believe that there was a kicking of arses behind the scenes … but that took the involvement of the big man in Ireland.
If he has to impose himself like that then those minding the shop are doing a dreadful job of it.
What the Hell must he have thought listening to the manager’s press conference?
How about “the responsibility for sorting this out is on me, as I’m one of the architects of it”?
What Lennon did last night prior to the game, in his team selection, was shocking.
What he did after it was where the real damage has been done here.
For openers, he has sparked his own version of the witch-hunt, with forums and blogs all trying to unravel his comments about the players and identify those who aren’t interested in being here … that is going to have an impact for the rest of this window and for the rest of this campaign.
It is a deeply destabilising move.
Gerrard has often thrown his players under the bus, but never to this extent.
Remember, what’s Lennon’s done is suggest that some of the footballers who have won unprecedented success are the ones holding the club back.
Yet some of Lennon’s comments are undoubtedly grounded in truth.
When he says players don’t want to be here I have no reason whatsoever to doubt that.
But I want to know why so many of them can’t wait to be out of Celtic Park in this, the most historic year in our recent history.
You have to question his own attitude too.
He claims players don’t want to play for us, yet he decided to start those players last night when guys like Soro, Klimala and Ajeti cooled their heels.
Presume, as I do, that a couple of those want-away players are in that midfield last night … you could have dropped one of them for the revolutionary tactical act of playing a striker and you could have given Soro a chance to show us what he can do.
If he’s not up to it, what did we spend £2 million on?
Lennon’s comments have driven a wedge between him and the squad.
He has driven a wedge between the players and the fans.
Our exit from Europe last night lies totally with him and his disastrous tactical decisions but today we’re focussed – doubtless as he intended – on trying to identify which players should no longer be at the club.
But Lennon should carry the can for that result, and he most certainly should carry the can for the inevitable upheaval and chaos into which he’s plunged this club this morning with that dreadful after-match press conference.
We weren’t beaten last night by a superior team but by a tactic right out of Football 101, and that’s what scared me most watching it.
We were beaten by a long ball up the park to a pacey striker, and I knew that’s exactly what Rebrov had in mind when he made the substitution.
It was a tactic I was able to divine from my living couch, and yet the manager of Celtic failed to see it.
There was more in that press conference than just destroying his own players.
In a segment I heard but didn’t believe he actually said the match was “easier than I thought.”
I had to replay that moment again and again. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard a manager whose team has just been beat in a massive match talk such dire nonsense.
This was the kind of incoherent rambling we’d have torn strips off Caixinha for.
The last few weeks have been a slow-moving disaster made momentarily better by a late goal against Dundee Utd from a new signing.
His reward for that was to dumped on the bench.
Lennon said that neither striker was match-fit; here’s a suggestion … give them 45 minutes each so we’re actually playing with a recognised forward and get them fit at the same time.
Too complicated apparently.
But there’s one thing that should be readily apparent and isn’t complicated at all; people’s legacies are being determined right now, based on the way this season unfolds. The people with their hands on the reins at every level at our club will be judged based on whether or not the ten in a row opportunity is seized or squandered.
And last night, Neil Francis Lennon, the man entrusted by our board with getting us over that particular line, did more damage to that cause than any bad result or SFA sanction ever could, and not during the game itself with his decision making, which was deplorable enough, but in his broadside against our own footballers in a petulant rant to cover for his own mistakes.
We’re in a bad place this morning folks, and we ought to be having a full, frank and adult discussion about how we got here and if it’s even possible to fix this without drastic, and perhaps even more destabilising, actions.
I fear we’re not ready for it.
I fear that some of our supporters are never going to be ready for it, though ignoring a problem never made it go way.
This is the most successful period of domestic dominance from any football club in the history of the Scottish game.
That’s a fact, but it has covered a multitude of sins and grotesque failures of long-term vision and leadership at the very, very top of Celtic.
Sooner or later – and it’ll be sooner now – that has to be addressed.
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