If we had the ability to take a supporter-wide opinion poll on the issue of Neil Lennon, my view is that he would still win the backing of the majority.
It may no longer be a whopping majority, and the next couple of games could radically change the equation … but for now, I’d say he still had it.
Lennon certainly has the support of some segments of the media; others are clearly just making mischief for their own sake.
The Daily Record posted separate articles backing the manager yesterday, which I would have said was unbelievable except that one of them was from their Ibrox blogger McFarlane and the other was from Barry Ferguson.
To me, that’s trolling and not even that well disguised.
Lennon’s pals in the game have lined up to back him as well; Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan, Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson and others. You understand why.
Friends will back each other up no matter what and O’Neill in particular knows what it’s like to be in the job and getting pressure from all sides.
Strachan’s support for Lennon is even less surprising, because one of the real problems I’ve always had with him is the contemptuous way he views supporter’s opinions, and that’s been true no matter where he’s been playing or managing in his football career.
He is a true product of the bubble; he sees everyone outside of it as ignorant and uninformed.
Sutton, whilst offering support, has also said however that things need to change and pretty damned quickly.
He is a realist.
If one of these guys is going to break ranks first and start openly questioning whether Neil Lennon can turn things around my money would be on big Sutton to be the one to do it.
For today, he’s blaming Leigh Griffiths.
Well, it’s original. You have to give him that. But Sutton is too honest not to let rip if he thinks things are spinning out of control. In a curious way, you can trust him.
Here’s the question which we should all be asking; does he have all the support he needs within the club? That’s not me asking if the board still backs him; they are probably far more supportive than the fans are at the moment.
No, it’s a different thing I have in mind.
Where is Lennon’s backroom team here? Is everyone there on the same page, or does the manager need more people around him that he can rely on and trust? I don’t like to point fingers at other people, especially when Neil himself sat in the dugout for most of the match looking as disinterested and disengaged as some of the players were.
But who is helping this guy out behind the scenes? Has the appointment of Gavin Strachan been a hindrance or a help? Because we look like we’ve gone decisively backwards since the departure, last season, of Damien Duff.
A lot of the players are unfit; Lennon himself has said this. But we’re not at the start of a campaign; we’re three months into it, and that speaks most loudly about something being seriously wrong behind the scenes. Does Lennon trust his coaches? Do they trust him?
Is he getting enough service from them, or enough help?
Does he give them too much responsibility or are they not taking enough? What exactly is going on at Lennoxtown that Griffiths still isn’t first team fit, that Ajeti and Klimala have drifted in and out of readiness, that Eddie can’t be relied on, that Jullien is still out … you know, you could go on.
We don’t look like a team being properly coached and drilled. Lennon’s never been big on tactics and systems; who is responsible for making sure that the team is a cohesive whole? It appals me that many are willing to accept that the manager doesn’t do that job … but most do accept it, but on the proviso that there’s somebody at Celtic who actually does.
But there’s no evidence that there is at the moment. On Saturday we looked like a team of strangers. There was no running off the ball, no movement, no aggression, no energy. There was no sense of a system in operation. It was horrific.
Lennon was denied his first choices as coaches. I agree that Alan Thompson shouldn’t come back, but beyond that Lennon should have been able to choose his own backroom team. We should have a half dozen coaches up there, including more involved with fitness and at least one who’s primary role is in helping knit together the defence … the number of goals we lose from set pieces and cross balls and big punts up the park is just unacceptable.
Lennon’s assistant was a central defender; how can we still not fix this stuff?
The manager has limitations; we all knew that when he arrived. It was imperative that we surrounded him with the best coaches we could get, or at least a team who he was fully comfortable with and trusted to the fullest.
Instead, the man Phil Mac Giolla Bhain calls “the untitled Director of Football” decided to pick and choose for him, an experiment which saddled Deila with the appalling John Collins … you’d think Lawwell would stop seeing himself as an expert on football by now. He is a bean counter, that’s all. He has no business making those decisions.
Damien Duff and Shaun Maloney have both left the club in recent years; these were people who got on with the manager and who know their business.
Maloney has gone on to work alongside Roberto Martinez at Belgium. Duff works with the Irish national setup … these guys are top rank. Who have we replaced them with? It’s not only the first team that can be weakened by neglect and half measures. The consequences for the first team if other areas of the business are allowed to fall can be just as severe.
Maybe getting rid of the manager isn’t the most radical step.
Maybe the guy just needs better people around him, to offset some of his own weaknesses. We could do that much more quickly and easily than going through the major upheaval of bringing in a new boss and having to replace the backroom team anyway.