“Neil Lennon will always be a legend …”
That’s the conventional wisdom. No matter what happens, he will retain a place in the hearts of the Celtic fans. He will always be loved. It is repeated so often, and with such conviction, you could almost believe it. But here’s the thing; it is not true.
Neil Lennon can, in the next few weeks, absolutely shatter his standing with many, many Celtic supporters. He can act in a way that paints him as selfish, arrogant and out of touch. He can do such colossal damage to his reputation that it will never recover.
It has started already in some circles.
His post-match comments have become ever more disconnected from the reality of where we are. His contention that he does not deserve to be criticised is risible when you consider the damage to our standing in the wider game which has already been done this season. His snark about the anger all come from “outsiders” is a grotesque insult to tens of thousands of fans who bought season tickets knowing they might not even see games.
Those are the “outsiders” to whom he is referring. The people whose money ends up in his bank account at the end of every month. We are not an EPL club floating on television money; every penny that flows through Celtic comes from the fans.
When he spits out anger at the supporters he chips away at the last defensive walls around him. If this reaches a tipping point – and so many things can result in that right now, most notably the prospect of going to Ibrox and losing heavily, which none of us can rule out – he will have done untold harm to the way he is viewed and how he is remembered.
There is absolutely nobody in the Celtic support – nobody – who wants to see Neil Lennon humiliated. Understand that the first 4-1 reversal at the hands of Sparta was the point where many of us stopped pretending this might be salvageable and started to understand that we were in the endgame. Yet in spite of that, the manager retains our goodwill.
But the signs are worrying that Neil Lennon might be willing to stubbornly, even selfishly, hang on long past the point where it must surely be obvious, even to him, that he has done serious and irreparable damage to our campaign.
We are fast approaching that juncture.
I beseech Neil Lennon, do not let it go that far.
And in particular, do not become the bullet-proof vest for, or sacrifical lamb for, those above you who pledge you their loyalty but who will stab you in the back if they think their own skins and their own reputations and their own remuneration is at stake.
If this comes down to money, there is an agreement that can be made.
The board cannot simply throw him to the wolves.
A mutual parting of the ways is inevitable here, but both sides can come together and make it as amicable as possible, and in a timely fashion which respects his accomplishments to date and preserves and protects Lennon’s reputation if not his legacy.
He has failed. He won’t be the manager who leads us to ten in a row; that’s absolutely certain at this point.
It’s too late to save that, now all at Celtic Park have to salvage what they can, when they can before it’s too late for all of them.