What Did Sunday Teach Us? That This Celtic Team Hasn’t Turned The Corner At All.

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On Sunday I celebrated the triumph.

A little too long and a little too hard, because I spent Monday paying for it.

Yesterday, I was still shaking off the last vestiges of the hangover.

For those two days I declared a sort of temporary armistice, because as most people are aware I wasn’t able to enjoy the Treble Treble triumph as I would have liked and I was damned if Neil Lennon was going to spoil my enjoyment of the Quadruple Treble as well.

Before, during and after Sunday’s game I read some of the most astonishing revisionism on the subject of our manager.

Notably that he had proved something and that we had definitively turned a corner.

The first of those things is true. The second is not. Lennon has proved something all right; he has proved, again, his gross unfitness for the job he holds. He has proved that he is nowhere near the calibre of manager that Celtic should be employing.

Later on today, I am going to do a much larger article on Lennon’s multiple failures during the game on Sunday. For now, I want to remind people of a couple of things which few want to acknowledge here in the understandable euphoria over the result.

The first is that Neil Lennon’s managerial career at Celtic was decided on penalty kicks. With three taken from each side Lennon’s future not just at Parkhead but in the wider game itself hinged on the skills of a young goalkeeper who was arguably to blame for two of the three goals we conceded during the course of the 120 minutes which preceded it.

Connor Hazard was playing reserve football not that long ago. Lennon’s decision to trust him with a major final looks, on paper, to have been vindicated but only by those penalty kick heroics. Taken in its full context, and judged over the course of the game, it looks like what it was; another mad Lennon gamble which could have had devastating consequences.

Our manager proves the old adage that at times it’s better to be lucky than good. He certainly isn’t good.

It should concern every single Celtic fan that we are now basically relying on the luck.

This was not a rousing Lennon triumph by any stretch of the imagination; the Quadruple Treble and our place in the history books was decided on a penalty kick lottery which always comes more down to good fortune than anything else, which is why it’s such a horrendous way to decide a match. One of Lennon’s most telling contributions was to make sure we had a single striker on the pitch when it came to the crunch. That alone is mind-boggling.

The second is that hot on the heels of the Ross County disaster we came within penalty kicks of losing the Quadruple Treble Final to a lower league team.

People can say all they want about Hearts having “an SPL squad” but first, it isn’t true and second, even if it is, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of their overall quality.

We’re talking here about a team of journeymen knitted together by a reasonable manager.

That is really all they are.

We are not remotely where we need to be when a side such as this can come back from 2-0 down and basically keep us camped in our own half from the start of the second half onwards. Robbie Neilson is no managerial guru, but he owned Lennon on Sunday and there are better managers, with better squads at their disposal, waiting for us.

The prospect of Lennon leading us to Ibrox fills me with dread. If we get that far without a major disaster in the next three games – not that it’ll matter – that’s where I’ve long thought that the real denouement, the one no-one can ignore, will be waiting for us.

The cup final win has given succour to those who believe Neil Lennon can turn things around, but other than the fact our name is on the cup I don’t know what it is they think they saw to convince them of that.

Because what I saw was another shambolic performance from much of the team, tactical decisions which baffled me, substitutions which were infuriatingly amateurish and that last thing which has become a hallmark of the Lennon teams; a reliance not on smart strategy but on individual moments of brilliance and the odd slice of luck.

We are not going to get away with trusting in those things and right now they are all we’ve got in the locker.

As delighted as I am to have seen us secure our historic triumph I am not fooled for one minute by it.

Almost everything that could have gone wrong on the day did, right up to our missed penalty.

Everything after that was in the lap of the Gods.

We haven’t turned the corner.

This campaign still bears all the signs and symptoms of one that will end in disaster.

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