Using Sports Psychology At Celtic Is Overdue, And It Will Never Beat Getting The Team Selection Right.

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When I watched Neil Lennon’s press conference yesterday and heard him cling to yet another excuse for our Champions League knockout I was, at least, momentarily lightened by the idea that perhaps the club was taking a step in the right direction with it.

He grabbed onto Dermot Desmond’s belief that there might be a psychological element in play with our early knockouts in a way that was sort of pathetic.

If our club has a psychological problem it’s the first I’ve become aware of it, since they have coped with the momentous pressure of the last few years with a consistency no other team has come close to matching.

Nevertheless, I am glad if we’re finally going to bring in sports psychologists to our club; my question is why it’s taken so long. Surely this is an innovation which we didn’t need to wait until now for? Surely this is something we could have done a long time ago?

Why has it taken us so long? Rodgers brought in a lot of progressive policies and progressive changes; I hear a lot of them went out the door with him. If we’re stepping back to the future I am pleased about it, but I genuinely can’t believe we’re not doing it already.

Ten years ago this would have seemed revolutionary.

Now we seem flat-footed and behind the curve.

This echoes what I said yesterday about the whole Desmond interview; it was singularly unimpressive. Lennon talks about our majority shareholder having great vision and a strategic mind, but I saw not one bit of evidence of that in his words.

I don’t see a vision.

I see desperate scrambling to heal self-inflicted wounds.

On top of that, his appointment of Lennon twice when Neil’s CV didn’t warrant the job on either occasion points to a certain blind faith in the power of managers who are “Celtic minded” as if that made you a superior tactician.

In many ways we’re lucky Martin O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers were Irish; it seems to be the main qualification Desmond looks for in our managers. Three out of six appointments – the exceptions being Strachan, Mowbray and Deila – were Irish.

If you consider that Lennon was appointed twice that’s four out of seven.

We all better hope Stephen Kenny doesn’t start putting together a good run of form as the national coach … we might end up with him next time.

I want to see Celtic have all the modern techniques available to us. I would prefer we had a manager who had come up through the game utilising them already … Lennon’s appointment is a clear step backwards in our progress, and Desmond freely admits that they didn’t look beyond him.

Of course the manager was full of praise for the guy yesterday.

Let’s be blunt, Desmond has twice given him a job which his experience in the game doesn’t remotely justify.

The manager’s ability to find ever new reasons for our last two Champions League exits is ridiculous when you think about it.

Even if we brought in the best sports psychologist in the world, even if we used every bit of data analysis we could get our hands on, none of it would be a substitute for the club bringing in players in time to bed in for these games. None of it would be half as effective as playing our best central midfield player in his natural position instead of at left back. None of it would be anywhere near as effective as playing a striker at home instead of going with a midfielder up front.

Lennon is solely to blame for those defeats and no amount of scrabbling around for alternative excuses – wasn’t it Bolingoli’s fault during the week? – is going to change that simple fact.

He does himself no favours with this kind of talk.

But worse, he does our club no favours with it either.

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