Simon Ferry. Chris Sutton. James McFadden. A lot of Celtic fans.
Many members of the mainstream media.
These are the people who have levelled a quite incredible accusation at this Celtic team; that its players have “given up” or “chucked it” or “thrown in the towel.”
And I have to admit, when you watch us play recently you see a team that Callum McGregor rightly said is “disjointed” and all over the place.
I would contend that the problem is that the coaches cannot properly organise our squad’s disparate talents into a working team.
We get by on moments of individual skill and the quality of the squad as a whole.
Those crucifying individual players are surely not blind to what this team – who Lennon was vocal in praising to the nines only days ago – have accomplished; if they were bad footballers we would have known it long, long before now.
But let’s give those people the benefit of the doubt; imagine this team has given up.
The question you have to ask yourself next is “why?”
Recently, they look like a team which is playing without purpose, like soldiers trying to execute a complex military manoeuvre without a plan.
Lennon has said this is about players who don’t want to be at the club.
Last night he talked of a dressing room “culture” which he has to defeat.
It even seemed as if he was gearing up to blame some of this lack on focus on Mo Elyounoussi because he checked his phone whilst sitting in the stand after being substituted, a controversy manufactured by the hacks if ever there was one, but one our manager seized with an unseemly and depressing haste.
I’ll tell you something you already know; if the man across the city were getting those performances and these results, and if he had made those remarks, I know I’m not the only person who’d be writing, in glee, that he was starting to sound an awful lot like someone who had lost the support of his players and was now floundering in an effort to hang onto his job.
What has gone wrong here?
If the players have chucked it, why have they done so, why pick now?
Why wait until they are on the brink of history and immortality?
Why are consummate professionals who have won everything before them wilfully disregarding their reputations as winners, and in the process teeing up the possibility of Steven Gerrard and his arrogant band of winless frauds taking the victory lap that would elude them otherwise?
Are people inside Celtic Park asking those questions?
Are those at the top of the house in contact with the players?
Will it take the hitherto unthinkable – a director actually walking into the dressing room to confront the players directly – before it resolves itself?
And if that happened, what would the players say to those who hold the fate of even the manager in their hands?
What message might our playing squad convey about the state of affairs they greet each day, about the training, the preparation, the standards behind the scenes, the professionalism of the operation with which confronts them every morning?
Perhaps that’s why nobody seems terribly keen to ask the question; for fear of what the answer might be.
Because if the great Neil Lennon experiment has failed then whose fault is it?
Nobody who wants to take responsibility for it anyway, and especially when you consider that many of us believe that it should never have been attempted in the first place.
There are those who would, quite happily, throw the players under the bus.
The keeper is crap. Duffy is a joke signing. Bolingoli was a disaster. Forrest cannot play. McGregor is a shadow of himself. Ajeti is a dud. Brown is past it. Elyounoussi was looking at his phone. Griffiths is unfit and has jeopardised the whole season. Edouard and Ntcham want away.
All variations on the same theme.
So many of our players are out of sorts right now.
So many of them appear to be floundering.
Is it even possible for so many of our footballers to be going through such difficulties –and many of them are proven winners who have been part of history making teams – unless there are serious, serious problems behind the scenes?
Again I come back to the assertion I’ve made many times before; if such problems exist they are known about by those in the boardroom, whether those people want to be aware of them or not. At the very least, those people would have to be deliberately insulating themselves from any negative perception and I don’t even know how that’s possible after last night.
To do nothing as our club lurches towards a serious crisis would be an abrogation of responsibility on an epic scale.
How much will they allow things to fragment before they bow to what would surely be inevitable?
At what stage are they part of the problem and not the solution?