It’s Not Over For Neil Lennon Yet! A Rousing Defence Of The Manager.

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Neil Lennon has had very little support from the Scottish media in any of his roles in Scottish football including his time at Hibs.

In fact, the relentlessness of the attacks on him is frankly poor and downright disrespectful and they are continuing to undermine the Celtic manager.

We’ve had the mantra of “he brings it on himself” foisted upon us from day dot which is bizarre and in the main, unfounded.

The slating of his ability as a manager has, of late, been ferocious yet he’s won 5 League Titles, 2 Scottish Cups and a League Cup to secure the Treble Treble.

He stepped in when Brendan Rodgers abandoned and secured the feat of three domestic trebles on the trot. He is now 90 minutes from a fourth treble.

He’s suffered tremendous abuse from several outlets and has also been physically assaulted whilst carrying out his job.

He’s done so under immense added pressure.

The media never gives the guy a bye.

Celtic, this season has been wayward and he’s yet to find his settled eleven. We’ve had problems with the virus, including the Bolingoli incident and with players contracting or having to self-isolate. It’s been far from ideal and I agree that Thursday’s result was shambles.

There’s no excusing the manager, or the players for that matter, and I was as disappointed as everyone but the gnashing of teeth and vitriol from our own fans has been over the top.

There is a section of our fans are buying into all this crisis talk and are giving him it tight. I fully understand the frustrations given the importance of this season, who wouldn’t?

Yet trophy less Gerrard has been lauded since his arrival two and a half years ago. Gerrard now deserves credit as frankly his team are a polar opposite from when he took over. He’s been given massive financial support by his board, but the Blue Room is still bare.

There were signs in yesterday’s win over Motherwell that this group of players still possess tremendous ability but the media are portraying it as papering over the cracks.

Celtic has lost seven points this season while Rangers have dropped four so it’s relatively marginal.

We’re behind in games due to the Scottish Government’s decision to punish the club for Bolingoli’s stupidity. We need a little perspective on this. I genuinely believe the best is yet to come but Christ we need to start doing it.

People are making claims about Celtic’s fitness and have accused Lennon of having a laissez-faire approach to it but he’s dropped Griffiths due to this.

Lennon continually protects his players from criticism and some would suggest that it’s to his own detriment. Lennon was part of a Celtic team that was renowned for their fitness so are we to believe that as a manager he’s blatantly disregarded this mantra?

What is this based on? Internet hearsay, bullshit rumours topped with a sprinkle of conjecture. Motherwell had a spell of about 20 minutes which caused us some problems but Celtic upped the ante after their goal – unfit teams don’t do that.

I read the weekend’s The CelticBlog’s piece by Tony Begley and I have to take issue with the opening gambit stating that some of our fans see him as some sort of Provisional IRA icon. Lennon is not bedecked in Beret, Commando Jacket and AK47.

I literally don’t know fellow Hoops fans who portray Neil in such a light.

This is the preserve of fans of other clubs.

Lennon distances himself from this kind of thing. And frankly the line on “cerebrally challenged” and “faith through and through” is just daft.

The CelticBlog is an open forum for writers like Tony and I. I’ve been here since the inception of the blog but have become somewhat lapsed. James, to his credit gives us free reign unless anything we write is defamatory or breaches copyright – that’s what editors do.

Tony is entitled to his opinion but to demean your fellow fans publicly does not sit right with me. Simply because they may have blind faith to Celtic, its players and manager doesn’t mean they are fair game, and to bring the IRA into it is wrong on so many levels. If that how Tony sees it, then fine. As a Celtic fan I have the right to reply. It was extremely patronising.

The suggestion that Lennon will not have a “Mowbray style ending” is inexplicable – he’s actually won something. Mowbray offered very little to the club and had to go.

Typically, Neil’s detractors use his time at Hibs to point out his failings, while conveniently forgetting that he won them the Championship meaning promotion to the top flight then took them into Europe the following year. This would not suggest disharmony, surely?

Tony also points to rumours at Hibs and Bolton about his man-management.

Whispers of player fallouts arose but it seemed to me many of their egos got in the way.

The stark reality was that Lennon took players to task on poor performance and they didn’t like being shouted at. Yet, Sir Alex Ferguson is held in high esteem for his hair-dryer treatment? Kamberi was said to be the player at Hibs who took issue, but he illustrated his loyalty when he went to Ibrox on loan – where is he now? A bad apple perhaps?

Lennon was suspended but somehow it ended up with Leanne Dempster doing a huge climb down. Club secretaries ought to know not to interfere with dressing room matters.

I’ll be honest, I am unsure of where I sit with the current manager.

I’m not here to cheerlead on his behalf especially after Sparta. What he needs to do is get the team to the levels we know and recognise. We’re giving away meaningless fouls which invites pressure and the defence is at sixes and sevens. Barkas has come under intense scrutiny and rightly so but has yet to play in front of the same back three/four.

That tells a story, and it makes a big difference.

On a positive note, Rogic is in fantastic form, Brown had a great game and Elyounoussi scored a hat-trick. Brown looked like a player hungry to save his manager’s skin. But sometimes there is no pleasing some of our fans.

Some still want Lennon gone and I get it. But even if you do, treat the man with the respect he deserves. He’s led Celtic to unbridled success and has been at the end of some shocking stuff and we should celebrate not denigrate his achievements.

Leave the public sniping to the SMSM, it’s something they excel at.

Gavin McCann is a long time CelticBlog contributor, and was one of the editors of On Fields Of Green. 

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