When he did his press conference yesterday, Neil Lennon paid back the bosses in full for their continued “support” of him when he paid fulsome tribute to them and their “successes” of the past few years. I found his comments ridiculous and nauseating.
But they were also pretty self-defeating, in the context of Lennon’s own record.
I’m a huge Brian Clough fan, and he knew as well as anybody what it’s like to work for egomaniacal directors who believe that they are at the centre of what clubs achieve. But Clough never tired of reminding them that he was the guy who brought the glory, not Sam Longson or any of the others he worked for down through the years.
He believed – and I agree with him – that the job of a board is to appoint the best coach they can find, write the cheques and then basically get out of the manager’s way.
Celtic’s board is one of the few in football these days which believes that all success and glory can be traced right to them.
This causes problems in a number of ways, the most obvious of which haunts our club at the moment; they start to believe their own bullshit and some of them begin more and more to interfere in how the football operation is run.
This is already evident in Lawwell’s efforts to pick players and decide who should work on the coaching staff. What qualifications does he have to justify those kind of decisions? None. But he believes himself to be some kind of genius in these areas.
Lawwell genuinely does believe he deserves a statue in the carpark one day.
This is crazy, but until recently it was almost an article of faith for his band of followers. I think even he now realises that this it’s not going to happen; he’s more likely to get one outside The Louden based on how this campaign has gone. Still, Lennon shouldn’t be pushing this daft stuff.
Lennon should be more protective of his own record, because he has been successful at Celtic Park and those triumphs belong to him and the players.
No director ever scored a goal or saved a penalty or made a match-winning tactical change or substitution … board members who start getting mad ideas about what their contribution has been eventually come to the conclusion that the manager is just another functionary, that anyone can do the job if he has the right support, and that path leads to madness.
Perhaps that’s the real problem here, perhaps that kind of arrogance is why they hired Lennon in the first place, a belief that they were the real brains of the operation all along and that it didn’t really matter who was in the dugout.
Longson famously told Clough pretty much that, and it sparked the clash of personalities which led to the great man’s resignation at Derby.
The chairman probably thought he had the last laugh when Clough’s replacement, Dave Mackay, won the title for him … but Derby didn’t build a dynasty and Clough went to Forest, where he proved that it’s managers who do great things after all.
In buttressing the rampant egos of Desmond and Lawwell, Lennon is selling himself short and helping to reinforce the wholly wrong-headed ideas that these men have about themselves.
If they were able to lay aside their own arrogance and focus on the good of Celtic, instead of relying on their own deeply flawed judgement, the whole club would be in a better place.