Neil Lennon continues to be haunted by his departure from our club. I don’t blame him, I understand why he feels like that, but it would be better for all concerned if he stopped banging on about it all. It does him no credit, and it does him no good.
Neil Lennon was a poor appointment the first time and a terrible one the second time. Nothing that happened to him in between those appointments suggested that he was a top tier manager. Nothing that has happened to him since has changed a single person’s mind. He is not rated outside of a small cadre at Celtic Park, and this is reflected in his inability to find a job on the level he believes he is capable of. Almost nobody else in football agrees with him.
Even if you believe that the way his time at Parkhead ended was grossly unfair – as he does – you need to consider that the opinion some Celtic fans have of him as a coach is shared by chairman and executives elsewhere. Nobody is beating a path back to his door. Rumours link him with this job and that, but I wonder if he will ever return to the dugout.
Yesterday I wrote about Andrew Smith’s piece on Lennon and The Mooch, and how ridiculous it was to compare those two. But it was someone on Twitter how pointed out to me that, in fact, a better comparison would have been to compare Lennon to McCoist.
They were two club icons who blotted their copybook with the fans. That comparison fell down in terms of McCoist’s accomplishments in the dugout – which were non-existent – but actually resonates when you look at what he has done since. McCoist, like Lennon, talked at length about wanting to return to management, but he never has and he never will. He is a man who has clearly made peace with that, and has settled into life as a pundit.
Lennon could easily do the same. He is interesting and engaging to listen to. For his own good, he should steer clear of management. He is not temperamentally suited to it.
His comments recently about how he lost friends because they criticised his skills in the dugout reveal an arrogance which is grossly misplaced.
He refuses to accept one iota of accountability for what went wrong for him at Parkhead and I’ve always believed, and always will, that this doesn’t just offend Celtic fans who needed to hear some kind of contrition, but it is the last thing any prospective employer wants to hear.
They want to know that you understand your own failings, recognise where you went wrong and that you’ve learned from your mistakes.
If you listen to Lennon he’s trying to tell us that if COVID hadn’t happened everything would have been fine. This is simply not true. There was already plenty about his approach which was suspect and wrong. Look at the crucial result that went against us shortly before COVID hit; the Copenhagen debacle. Lennon’s entire tenure can be summed up in that night.
After the match he talked about failures of “game management” from the players. But that’s partly down to him. When you watch the three goals they scored that night, tactical ineptitude is obvious in every single one of them, and in Lennon’s overall approach. A couple of really bad results against the Ibrox club were further evidence of a guy whose one dimensional approach had been well and truly figured out by other bosses.
One of them was Robbie Neilson at Hearts. In the Quadruple Treble final, he knew exactly what changes to make and when, and Lennon floundered in the face of them and they were able to force the game all the way to penalties.
Lennon’s revelation about how two other Celtic players breached COVID regulations alongside Bolingoli is really not one that we needed to know about either, and it paints him in a far worse light than he thinks it does. Because how the Hell could this guy have credibly punished the left back for it whilst other players got off scott-free?
If he doesn’t think that was more widely known in the dressing room he’s dead wrong. There would have been a fair few people at Celtic Park who’d have known about that and if those people weren’t sanctioned for it then he was adopting different rules depending on whether the breaches were publicly known or not, or perhaps who did it.
Either way, it’s a recipe for dressing room division and eventual collapse. Even if the club did take action within the walls – I very much doubt it based on his comments – he clearly allowed the situation to get out of control.
Strong managers are capable of controlling a dressing room and even bringing it together. But Lennon’s managerial style is of the old “bollock them and hope for results” vintage, which is useless in the current era and actually only breeds resentment.
Look, I don’t want to get into a big anti-Lennon screed here. But I think we now have to conclude that he never will acknowledge nor accept that did a single thing wrong in his time at Celtic Park, and that’s tough for a lot of our fans to hear.
Yet the real victim here is him. His refusal to accept this has cost him friends. He admits that. He would rather fall out with people who criticised him and who he thinks were lifelong bound never to do that than accept that they might have had legitimate points. It is a serious obstacle to his continuing a career in management, and every time he does it he moves a little further away from being able to reconcile himself to many of our fans.
Neil Lennon is a fool to himself. One day he has to recognise that … for his own good.