Since the Ferencvaros game, Lennon has behaved like a man who has lost the dressing room, expects to lose or actually wants to lose it.
I have never seen a Celtic boss who so consistently slags his own players and then expects them to run through walls for him.
He has questioned their commitment to the club.
He’s not the first manager to do so, but he is the first that I know of who continued to play the same players every week regardless and expected them to do him a turn.
He has questioned their mentality.
He is not the first manager to do this, but he might be the first to do so and expect them to become mentally stronger for such a public dressing down.
He has questioned their professionalism.
Which no footballer anywhere in the world is going to simply accept.
If people outside the club had done it, Lennon would have been the first person to defend them and we know that.
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He has questioned their will to win.
This team, which secured an historic quadruple treble and which won the first of them in a domestic campaign where they didn’t lose a single game. A record which will never be equalled. Imagine that.
It’s as if he wanted to heap every insult on them that he could.
Just one was missing.
He had not questioned their courage.
Well, as Jed Bartlett once said in a great West Wing moment; “strike another goal off the list.”
When speaking to the media last night Lennon did that exactly that, like a man fully willing to burn every last vestige of his relationship with the players to ash.
“You have got to want to go and head the ball, block runners. I don’t see us getting any free headers in the opposition box, but I have seen that plenty of times for us and it’s not been good enough,” he said. “There’s a softness about us this season.”
Later on in the interview, he went even further.
“Maybe they don’t want to get hurt or throw their body in the way of things, it’s not good enough.”
It’s the final insult. No player will stand for that, and why should they?
Here’s what he fails to understand; these aren’t cowards, they are simply professionals who are no longer willing to go above and beyond for a man who refuses to accept an ounce of responsibility when things go wrong and instead runs them down over and over again.
Because as always, this is Lennon slamming his players out of an unwillingness to accept any semblance of blame for what has gone wrong.
He was talking, in part, about our dire failures from set-pieces, from which we’ve lost a horrific 40% plus of our goals.
But he blames the players for this, a problem which has stalked every club he’s ever been at, as if his coaching and his team organisation has nothing to do with this.
He said last night the problem wasn’t there last season; actually, it was, but not to the same degree, just as it wasn’t there when he took over at Bolton until it was costing them nearly every week.
Even when he inherits a team with good habits, Lennon wears them down.
Lennon grinds good players and good practices into the dirt.
It’s the way he insults them though, these men with professional pride and the right to carry their heads high, which most counts against him.
This is a weak leader, one who does not inspire but instead seeks to rule by fear.
We have seen a different face of Neil Lennon over the course of the campaign, and it’s a highly unpleasant one.
You wonder if it’s the one that the players see every day.
He has a cheek to wonder why these guys won’t put themselves in harm’s way for him?