Things didn’t go quite to plan on Saturday, which of course, assumes there was a plan.
A timid Celtic side failed to even get a shot on target against “rangers “, who, in turn didn’t even force a save out of Vasilis Barkas, but all of a sudden the knives are out for the manager.
Yeah, we should have done better, and there are a few problems that need fixing, but all in all a piss poor game was won by one piss poor team against another.
This means that the hoops are now four points behind that lot with a game in hand. Hardly a crisis when looked at in that context, but questions do have to be asked about how it happened.
The performance should really have come as no surprise, the team has been limping along, grinding out results or riding their luck depending on how charitable you feel, and it’s time for one of those let it all out meetings in the dressing room.
We were aware some players wanted to leave, and Lennon himself has admitted he has had to talk some into staying, a task made easier when there weren’t any offers for them.
The intrusion of a life threatening virus into the squad has certainly had an effect, not just on those infected, but on those around them who must be wondering when they will receive a positive result.
None of it is good, but it cannot be allowed to continue.
But where do we start ?
Right now, we need fighters at the club. Forget the silky stuff, we need those who will haul themselves off the floor and drag others up with them.
In Neil Lennon we’ve got one, but lately he seems like he’s taken one punch too many, for whatever reason.
Well, whatever his excuse is, he’ll need to put that to one side and start to get a grip on things again.
There’s no point in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, that’ll just alert social services.
His style of late is to be the manager, not the coach, and for a while that seemed to suit him.
A quick hey ho lets get into them before kick off did the trick, and those who coached got on with coaching, but there seems to be an issue with that at the moment.
Too many players are grumbling about too many things and too many people are deciding they know what the problem is.
Truth , as ever, will be somewhere in between.
After Ferencvaros, Lennon stated that those who wanted away could go. Then he backtracked, presumably because no one wanted them, or more importantly, possibly because someone told him he had to keep them in the shop window, even after the transfer window closed…
Especially given the higher profile of this game, and worryingly, if true, the higher profile of the Europa League and upcoming Scottish Cup semi final.
It’s not just about Saturday’s defeat, it;s about the trend beneath.
Yet again, the manager was forced to field a makeshift defence, and to introduce another front pairing, even though technically it wasn’t two up front, but then again, I’m beginning to wonder if anyone in that side knows what they are supposed to be doing.
Dropping Greg Taylor seemed to suggest either he was bowing to fan pressure, which is unlikely, or he was , er, advised to field an expensive loan signing to justify signing im in the first place, and given that young Steven Welsh, who let no one down, was also drafted in, the uncertainty that led to the first goal was entirely predictable.
It’s time for the manager to stand up for himself, time to take a glance in the mirror where he will see both the cause of the problem and the solution.
Time for him to show that it;s not how hard you can hit, but how quickly you can get back up after you’ve been hit.
And if that means going into the office and telling someone that he is the manager, and he will do exactly what he feels is needed to win that tenth title, exactly what is needed to sort out the team, then he will do it.
If he does that, then we can turn this around very quickly indeed.
That should be followed by a coaching staff meeting.
He should want to know what the fuck they are telling players to do, and here we may have the core of the problem, Have a look at the Gerrard bench during the game on Saturday, and note how involved they are.
Compare and contrast that with ours….and that shows that the coaches are not all pulling in the same direction, and perhaps the arrival of Gavin Strachan, signed to replace Damien Duff , is the issue here.
Things certainly changed under his influence, and perhaps Lennon should be asking why. That means those such as John Kennedy and Stevie Woods need to speak up.
The players aren’t happy, and whatever it is thats making them unhappy and as a consequence affecting their confidence on the field needs to be identified and dealt with.
The coaches are responsible for basics such as shape and formation, with a remit to impose their own tactical nous on the style of play.
The kindness thing to be said about those ideas of late is that they are not working, and the cruellest ?
Well, you can fill in that bit.
And then the players themselves.
I have a simple message to those who are, er, unsettled.
Fuck off. Just pack your bags and fuck off.
Celtic were here before you were, and we’ll be here long after you have gone.
Sometimes in life you have to back the boss, whether you agree with him or not.
But then again, the boss needs to roll up his sleeves and put the hours in as well.
There isn’t a single one among us who doesn’t appreciate what Neil Lennon has done for this club, and what he has been through over the years.
He’s not a Brendan Rodgers, he’s not using the club as a stepping stone. He’s a part of the club and will be hurting as much as any of us right now.
That alone means we should give him the opportunity to fix what is broken.
And while he does that, we should be circling the wagons around him.