This morning, Stephen McGowan, of the Scottish Daily Mail, who is one of Lawwell’s pet journalists, has an interesting story in the papers about the Lennon saga, and I am going to follow up on that story later on today.
But he’s also done a podcast with Graham Spiers which throws up an interesting story of its own, and one that some people think offers up one of those “mitigating circumstances” for our former manager. It’s about Ivan Toney.
According to McGowan, we actually had Ivan Toney in the building.
That deal was all but done. Lennon and his coaches – including Gavin Strachan, who worked with Toney at Peterborough – were just waiting to get the green light.
McGowan says it was largely dependent on a deal being done for Odsonne Edouard.
But then, we didn’t let that stop us paying £5 million for Albian Ajeti.
The story doesn’t tally exactly with what Barry Fry has previously said, although Fry confirms that we were Toney’s number one option and that he would have signed for us in a heartbeat.
But he has never said the deal was ready to be signed, with Toney actually at Celtic Park.
McGowan is good though. I suspect he’s got something here.
The story is interesting, of that there is not the slightest doubt.
Toney would have been a fine signing as his goals at Brentford have proved.
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If the story is true it’s also not a surprise that those above Lennon at the club dithered and delayed and messed about and cost the manager his number one target; again, this would just another damning indictment of Lawwell after the fact, when it’s too late to matter, and more proof we need a director of football.
Yes, it does suggest that Lawwell works at cross purposes with the managers we have; that’s not news either. That man carries more of the responsibility for the loss of ten in a row and the collapse of this campaign than just about anyone does.
With the exception of Lennon.
And I’m just not sure that this offers him “mitigating circumstances” in any way, shape or form. Yes, it must have been a blow not to get the guy he wanted, but I happen to agree with the strategy of trying to retain our best players for this campaign and I have never thought that Lennon wasn’t properly backed in the summer window.
Neil Lennon had more money to spend in that window, without significant outgoings, than most other managers in our history. He was well taken care of. He might not have got the £6 million striker he wanted but he got a £5 million one who the club had scouted extensively.
I’m not going out on a limb when I say I believe Ajeti will be a success at Celtic Park … Kennedy has eight games to show us where the player is there, and I fully expect us to sing a different song once we’ve seen Ajeti play a little bit more.
As I’ve said already, unless these “mitigating circumstances” explain away Lennon’s dissing of his own players, his tactical ineptitude, his inability to coach the team properly, our tendency to lose goals from set plays and all the other ills which have plagued our campaign and which can be traced to the men in the dugout then we’re well shot of him.
To be honest, I don’t know why we’re bothering to look for “mitigation”. He’s gone and he’s not coming back any more than the ten is, and so is his pal Lawwell although that can’t come quickly enough as far as I’m concerned.
Time to move on from Lennon, he’s the past. Let’s look to the future.