Neil Lennon’s comments about Ange Postecoglou and this team the other day were not only crass and un-necessary, they were absolutely outrageous. Such is the way he’s behaved in recent months that he is risking something I never thought possible; challenging the perceptions of those who still worship him as a great Celtic Park hero.
That’s his last real relationship with our fan-base.
It is incredible to me that he would do this, because that relationship should last him a lifetime. It should be what gives him succour in his old age, even accounting for his being the hand on the wheel when we lost the ten in a row dream.
Lennon should never have had to worry about those guys. They stood by their man throughout the collapse of the last campaign. They have wished him well in his enforcement retirement from the dugout, and his early life getting used to punditry.
Their relationship with him should have been that which a generation of Ibrox fans has with Ally McCoist, although he was a disastrous manager at both of their clubs and had a major hand in the cataclysm which swallowed Rangers whole.
For all that, many of them have forgiven him, thinking doubtless of his years of service and the goals he scored. Lennon, too, should have had that sort of devoted following.
But he’s risking that now with his behaviour, and his utter refusal to accept that he got anything wrong. It leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
Our fans are not vindictive towards Lennon or nasty towards him in any way shape or form. Most of us are glad he’s no longer at Parkhead and will remember his managerial tenures – both of them – as colossal backward steps, not entirely of his own making.
Because Lennon had to be hired, after all.
He had to be trusted with those awesome responsibilities and I’ve always believed that the people who did the hiring – Lawwell and Desmond – are equally culpable, and especially when they knew all his failings both personal and professional the second time around and still handed him the most important season in our modern history.
What all of us want, what all of us need to move past the anger, is an acknowledgment that it is justified and not, as he seems to believe, a product of selfishness or ignorance. What we require is some recognition, however belated, that most of the shambles we presently have at hand he bears at least some of the responsibility for.
Where fans are angry is in his steadfast refusal to face up to that reality, although people from around football, including many of his friends, have told him that this is the case. Lennon himself comes across as selfish and abysmally arrogant, but also a little deluded.
It is certainly part of the reason he’s not currently employed as a manager. Chairmen at other clubs are not blind or deaf to all this. Lennon has a reputation for causing disruption. That, alone, is damning in a sport where most owners want a steady hand.
But an inability to admit to his mistakes is far and away a bigger factor, and a much larger issue for him, because there are few chairmen who will hire someone like that.
It may well be that to some extent Lennon has accepted those realities, and no longer cares. He talks about getting back into management quite a lot, but you have to wonder if he’s really serious when the life of a pundit carries less scrutiny and stress.
Clearly, he enjoys being able to point out others mistakes, and that’s quite amusing in some ways as he’s certainly never enjoyed it when anyone points out his. The kind of life where he can snipe from the side-lines without responsibilities of any kind should suit him.
But his relationship with many of our fans depends on contrition and an acceptance that he failed us. That he got things badly wrong. That he made terrible choices and that those choices led Celtic to crisis and to the loss of the ten in a row.
Nobody is saying that Lennon is not entitled to his personal grief; this has cost him, in terms of his career, his standing, his ambitions and his hoped for place in history. He mourns those things and he is entitled to do that.
But what we want more than anything is that he mourns for us, and not just himself, or at the very least he appears to recognise that we’re also entitled to do so. That he recognises what’s been taken from us, and feels genuine sorrow for us and for what we’ve lost.
And right now I don’t see any sign that he feels any of that. As long as he gives off that impression, he makes healing impossible and in time that will test even those who have stood by him this long. He may or may not care, at least not yet.
But it’s a hell of a way to have people remember you.