It has been obvious now for many weeks that Celtic was slipping badly.
It has been obvious that major reversals were waiting for us somewhere down the line. There have now been three of them in a very short space of time, two at home and one away. In addition, we’ve dropped points at Aberdeen and Easter Road. The manager is in dire straits.
In the meantime, the boardroom silence is deafening. They might talk to the manager behind the scenes and they might get the word out to their pals in the press corps, but in terms of genuine and open communication they are in hiding.
Part of this is the normal contempt for the fans, which this board routinely expresses. Part of it is their cowardice. They know if they publicly support the manager that they have to stick with that, at the risk of looking like mugs if he can’t turn it around.
But what it does, more than anything else, is breeds uncertainty. It gives every conspiracy theorist free reign to conjure up the best of their imaginations. Worse, it gives our enemies ample opportunity to stir the soup and make us look like shit.
Look at the media today. We have Charlie Adam telling a third-rate site that Celtic haven’t sacked Lennon yet because nobody else wants the job. That story is being regurgitated now in the mainstream media, and heaping further embarrassment on us.
We have other people saying that the board is working on some grand project and that they don’t want to derail it with a managerial change. Others think we’ve already put out the word to the likes of Gordon Strachan or Malky MacKay. The rumour factory is churning this stuff out at a steady rate, and we’ve allowed it by saying nothing.
Some say the board are incompetent. Some say Lennon is digging in his heels over a payoff. Some say that club and manager are showing contempt for the supporters – that’s how I see it myself. The thing is, everyone has a theory … all of it batters our club constantly.
The fans just want answers, and they are grabbing at every whisper in every story. The fans love Celtic and want what is best for it. But our enemies are quite happy to leap into this swirling mess as well, and people like Adam know exactly what they are doing.
The club’s silence has left the fans in the dark and it has emboldened our foes to spread ever more stories about dressing room divisions, players wanting to leave, the manager being on the brink or the board not being able to find someone new.
It is destabilising. Every major corporation knows that you do not leave everything hanging like, that in a crisis the worst thing you can do, the very worst thing, is pretend nothing is wrong and that seems to be the strategy we’ve embraced here.
They have allowed this to go on for weeks. How much longer are they going to do it? At least until the New Year, that’s the plan anyway, to give the manager the chance to really screw things up and in the meantime force him to field the same questions at every press conference.
“Is this a must-win game, Neil?” “Has the board told you you’re definitely safe?” “Are you aware of stories claiming that the club has talked to Manager X?”
I will be honest; if someone from the board popped up tomorrow to go on the record and say that the manager was safe for the rest of the season I’d think everyone at Parkhead had lost the plot. But we would know. There would be certitude.
The board would have taken a definitive decision one way or another. The leaders would, at least, be showing leadership.
A lot of people want to believe that the silence means that things are happening in the background. Others have taken Lennon at his word, and think he’s taken the board at theirs; they expect him to last until Ibrox, should he win his games up until then.
My own horrible suspicion is that they’re handling this in the complacent manner with which they appointed Lennon in the first place and that we shouldn’t suddenly expect a big announcement. Their mismanagement in any number of areas is profound enough that I can easily believe that all inside the club are fiddling whilst Rome burns.
They are kidding themselves if they believe that December will be all calm and no storm though. The complacency of it is breath-taking. There is no chance of us getting through the next five weeks without major ructions, without big problems becoming apparent, without media stories and events on the pitch which harden attitudes and make matters worse.
Silence in the face of this is lamentable. It is unforgivable.