I need to get that spellchecker fixed.
Fingernails were bitten, bottoms were shuffled nervously from cheek to cheek and cigarette sales went through the roof as Celtic stumbled into the quarter finals of the League Cup.
The supporters were equally nervous as the players huffed and puffed against a Dunfermline side who did what they were expected to, and that was to defend in numbers.
It very nearly worked as well, as the match stats show an overwhelming assault on the Dunfermline lines
It would be too easy to say that it should have been more convincing, but on another day the game would have been over and done with about an hour before it actually was, and lower league sides coming to Celtic Park early in the cup competitions are always going to set up this way. And the longer it works for them, the more restless the crowd and the team become.
It’s happened before, and it will happen again.
But this time, it’s been blown up into a major crisis. Sack the manager. fire the CEO, sign some players. Sign any players and sell the one’s we’ve got.
Or we could just sit the fuck down and shut up.
And have a wee think about what we are saying. A calm moment amongst the hysteria, a quiet contemplation of where we are at, and importantly, where we are going, and who with.
There are one or two things that are causing concern.
It took until extra time to dispatch Dunfermline, but the point is, after a gruelling match, they were dispatched.
Teams who play in that way can prove obstinate, and patience and effort is required to get the job done.
The job was done.
You could argue that despite intense pressure , the players came through for the manager.
You might not get much support for that argument, but there is some truth in it.
The thing is, you could put together an argument to back up whichever stance you want to take on current events.
Allow me to explain….
Scott Brown, we are led to believe, wasn’t at the game yesterday. I wasn’t either, and that means I cannot say whether or not I saw him.
It appears that captain and manager have fallen out over the reduction in standards at the club since Lennon began to put his stamp on the way things are done. The sports science is being ignored, days off are more commonplace, and the manager stinks of drink. Hence Brown has either been told to stay away because he has voiced his opinions on the matter, as he would, being captain, or he has decided not to bother showing up as it would inflame an already tense situation.
Scott Brown wasn’t at the game yesterday. Realising that the player has had a tough week, and is blaming himself for the European fiasco in midweek, Lennon has decided he needs a day or two off, just to recharge his batteries after a hectic and pressurized opening to the season. Lennon knows Brown is a key member of the team, and the others look to him for guidance and inspiration, so with the season defining clash with AIK Stockholm just days away, Brown needs a break to get himself back on clock.
Which is correct ? In fact, are any of these statements correct ?
Is Lennon taking the job seriously ?
Another criticism levelled at him is that he is in a comfort zone, and quite happy to nod and beg whenever his master’s voice is heard in the boardroom. Peter’s puppet ?
Has he lost the fire that once burned so brightly, and has the new found maturity led to complacency ?
Some point to his post match comments after the Cluj game as evidence he’s lost it, so let’s consider what he said yesterday, after James Forrest had secured a result against Dunfermline…
“I’m really proud of the players. I know a few of them weren’t at their best, but that was understandable.
“I’ve been in that situation myself after Champions League games – you can be a bit leggy.
“But we dominated the game, created loads of chances and didn’t deserve to go to extra-time.
“It was a really good test and you have to give Dunfermline credit. They came with a game plan and defended brilliantly.
“I wouldn’t say we struggled, but we didn’t cut them open as much as I’d have liked. When you’re faced with a bank of 10 players it can be difficult to break down.
“But I pulled the boys together at the end and told them I was proud of them. That was a stiff test of character, a real examination.
“They won’t see it the way I see it. But I played in a great Celtic side who had days like that.
“I remember a penalty shoot-out against Partick Thistle when I was a player here. And I got knocked out by Morton as manager.
“We’ve come through a big examination, psychologically rather than in a football sense.
“I was a bit worried near the end because penalties is a lottery. So, I’m grateful to Jamesie.”
What should he have said ?
Should he have slated them publicly ? Should he have found and exhibited one or more scapegoats ? should he have blamed the board ?
Or, by praising and protecting his players, has he done exactly what a manager should do ?
Is it alarming that while we have seen one or two mistakes, that he doesn’t seem to think he’s made any ? Of course he has, and one would like to think that he has privately acknowledged that, and is about to rectify it.
The Dunfermline side Celtic faced yesterday are nowhere near the quality of nearly everyone else that will come to Celtic Park this season, and they knew that. Thats why they played the way they did.
They were beaten, though you wouldn’t know it by the reactions afterwards.
When considering all of the scenarios above, and concluding which you think are right, wrong or might have something in them, consider also this..
Lennon is an experienced manager. This situation-if it is a situation, and not just some panic stricken narrative that has kind of got out of hand- is not new to him.
Perhaps it is this that allows him to adopt a mature and rational response.
Perhaps the fault is within us, perhaps we want him to come out swinging when things go wrong, if only to justify our own fears.
Sure, he is four games away from the sack. But then again, at Celtic, you always are.
We often sit in the stands and urge the players to keep the heid.
Maybe we should , too.
Yesterdays caption competition produced a number of top class replies…
Tomorrow sees the release of Stephen O’Donnells long awaited look at the trials and tribulations of Rangers, which examines who they were, where they came from and how they ended up the way they did.
For anyone interested in the well being of Scottish football, this is an essential read.
for anyone who likes a laugh, it’s also an essential read.
And it’s worth noting that there are no other histories of that club around, even though their history was once sold, it’s clear the buyer really wouldn’t have known what he was buying.
There’s a wee bonus if you want it..