A lot of folk out there really need to get a grip on themselves and I’m going to do them a favour and not name any of their names in this piece, although a couple of them will feature in an article later on today.
I’m talking about the ex-pros who are slagging off this squad.
I love how easy it is for some of them to accuse this team of giving up, of letting down the manager, of betraying the ethos of the club, of not reaching the right standards. They have a cheek to talk.
Some of them came from Celtic teams which were not exactly models of professionalism off the field, or even on it.
Their criticisms are shocking.
Some of these guys played in teams that haven’t done a tenth of what some of the players in this one have achieved.
Some of these guys finished their careers with a handful rather than the armful of medals which some of these current Celtic players have won. Some of them didn’t win any medals at all.
How dare they pontificate as if they were world beaters?
I’m in no mood to sugar-coat this for one more minute; most of the people firing these accusations are either pals of Neil Lennon or people who’ve had difficulty cutting it in management themselves.
Blaming the players has always been a convenient shield for struggling bosses and it is one that Lennon has deployed at all three of the clubs he’s been at … and in the same terms and in the same language each time. Coincidently, all three of these clubs also fell prey to the same basic mistakes on the pitch time and time and time and time again.
These people can’t even decide what they are accusing our players of.
Is it not wanting to be at Celtic?
How does that work for the likes of Callum McGregor, who there’s never been even a hint of unhappiness from, and yet has looked a shadow of the player he’s been these last few years?
Is it having lost the will to win?
That’s just nonsensical. Some of the same players had the will to will four trebles in a row … what, did they wake up one morning bored with being champions and winners? How does that happen?
Is it not being good enough for the shirt?
If so, why are so many people concerned about the size of the rebuilding job? Aren’t these “top players” we’re losing essentially the same “top players” who are egotists and not as good as they think they are?
Questioning their mentality and professionalism appears to be perfectly alright … from ex-footballers!
Who know that bad coaching methods and behind the scenes problems can drag down even a very good squad of players.
I’ll tell you how professional our players are; not one of them has blasted back at these guys over this nonsense. That speaks to their professionalism as far as I’m concerned. I see no sign that players simply “chucked it” under Lennon, but plenty of signs that his tactical decisions left some of them baffled and even angry.
One of our ex-players accused them of not wanting to get physical in games; I ask you, if you were playing for a manager who had called into question your desire to be at the club, who had questioned your mentality, who had torn strips off you and your team-mates to cover for his own deficiencies, would you run through walls for him? Put yourself in harm’s way for him?
No, and neither would I. I don’t think it’s cowardly. It’s not “chucking it” either; it’s people deciding that they aren’t prepared to risk their own careers and health just to prop up someone who isn’t going to protect or support them.
There are complex reasons for why a team stops winning, and why it regresses.
Sometimes those reasons are not immediately identifiable.
But I defy anyone to say that the reasons why we’re in this mess are not perfectly obvious to all.
This started, at least in public, on the night of the Ferencvaros game, when Lennon attacked his own team in the media and made them scapegoats for the disastrous decisions and choices that he had made that night.
That’s it. It’s as simple as that.
That was the first major wedge between the dressing room and the manager and he continued on that course even when it was clearly setting him, and the season, on a path to destruction.
Those of us who expressed our horror at his comments that night said that it would be very hard for him to row back on it; when he tried to that weekend I said it reeked of weakness and had made his position with the players even more difficult.
We never got over that.
The only way it would have been possible is if Lennon had stuck to his guns and tried to move those players on in the window; he chose to “clarify” the comments instead and kept selecting them every week, which he would not have done had he really harboured those kinds of doubts about them.
What he had done was demonstrate a willingness to throw the players under a bus, and he continued to do so all the way up to his final press conference.
That so many of our former players are happy to get behind the wheel of said bus and continue where he left off is pretty shameful in my book.