Don’t Take A Lenny Neil

Celtic crashed out of Europe last week after its team of Young Bhoys were mugged by the Old Lady.We were taught a very harsh lesson in defending and finishing – something we need to work on when we’re on the biggest stage on the continent. They were beaten up and left with a black eye and a burst lip, and that can’t be denied.Yet, let’s be fair to the young team of Lions. Our possession and ability to hold on to the ball and, most importantly, win away in Europe, has catapulted the club’s reputation back into the circles of the European giants. This young team is learning to box clever but need to learn to land the knockout punch to the heavyweights.

All of this is being done under the watchful eyes of boss Neil Lennon.

My fear is that we don’t capitalise on the money made by the impending sale of Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper. That cash should be used for one purpose and one only, and it’s not to sit in the bank in case there’s a rainy day. It should be spent on strengthening the squad.. Make no mistake, friends, and face some facts. These two talented players will go. Wanyama’s stock has risen greatly, and quickly, and one only has to watch him play in the great arenas of football to see why. He, more than any other player in a Celtic shirt, looked as if he belongs there.

As for Hooper, Celtic knocked back a last minute bid of £9.5m from Norwich City. What’s more, I’m of the opinion that the vultures will be lurking and ready to swoop for Forster too and I can see a bid for Matthews coming a mile away. They all have youth on their side, and Neil Lennon has already admitted that players will be looking to “further their careers”. It saddens me that any player wants to leave a club of Celtic’s size, and even more so when the reality is what they’re really leaving for is to go to so smaller clubs in a bigger league for bigger money.

Celtic simply cannot compete in terms of finance. They can box in the same ring in Europe, they can even punch above their weight, but as we witnessed the other night, our defence had a glass jaw.

I reckon we could get around £14-15m for the two players, and possibly more. Add that to the £20M plus the Champions League generated, and I’d say Neil Lennon would have every right to be chapping Peter Lawell’s door for funds – in fact, he should be ram-raiding it with a JCB.

You see, the SPL is not enough for me. I want to be facing the Barcelona’s of this world. Frankly the atmosphere at Celtic Park on league matchdays can be as flat as a witch’s tit and  every Celtic fan I know craves the big match nights at Paradise. Love it or hate it, the rivalry of Rangers is no longer there to whet our appetites.

But the most important figure behind this is Neil Lennon. Lennon, this season, has grown in stature and has a finesse and a real maturity. He’s learning from his mistakes and his answers in press conferences are measured and not knee-jerk. He still has the same passion for Celtic, and has quelled rumours about his departure. If we all believed Ray Wilkins on Sky the other night, Lennon would have been jetting to an English destination straight from Turin.

Lennon is almost unrecognisable from the man who was brought in on an interim basis to mop up the  mess Mowbray left Celtic in. It was a rudderless, aimless club bereft of direction. Lennon came in and in his first season won the Scottish Cup and lost the league by 1 point, losing only 4 games on the way (less than this season). He also made it to the League Cup Final. It’s easy enough for people to forget what this man has gone through, personally, in the name of Celtic Football Club. Threats, intimidation and assaults. Tell me where else in the world this would happen?

Then in his second season he captured the championship that had cruelly eluded him in the previous season by 20 points. Of course, the Club formerly known as Rangers were docked 10 points but Celtic overturned a 15 points deficit and people can make all the excuses they like … but it was won fair and square. The club’s adventure in the Europa League was decent enough, and we again reached the League Cup Final.

This season, Celtic will win the League again despite being on the wrong end of six defeats. He will get criticism, but I do see some method in Lennon’s madness. He’s tinkered with selections, and that has cost us points, but I think he’s run the rule over who can play where and who can replace those going.

Lennon will know who’s going and will have targets. If Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond are smart, he’ll get weighed in with a decent transfer kitty.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that we can buy ’em young sell ’em on for huge profit. It does work to a degree but it’s a game of chance especially in Europe. Can we find another Hooper or Wanyama? Possibly. In fact, certainly. We have an excellent scouting system but I do think we need to pay that little bit more for a striker. We’ll not find one in England that’s for sure and we will not get past Juventus or teams of that calibre if pluck someone from obscurity.

The league title could be a given for a few years yet, so maintaining stability in keeping Lennon is a must. Players come and go; even the King of Kings left and we sailed on. I thought life wouldn’t go on after he left but my old man’s words of wisdom quelled my fears. He said: “I’ve seen all the greats go. Celtic as a Club always moves on. They find others and then they become greats.”

But if you look back to manager’s like Brady, Macari and Barnes, this theory may not apply as much. We cannot take it for granted that if Lennon were to go we’d replace him like-for-like or get someone better. No manager worth their salt would want to come to Scotland despite having a go at the Champions League each year. Many expect big budgets and big wages.

Lennon has put his  heart and soul into Celtic and I really think the board should realise this and give him the funds to carry on his good work.

He deserves it, and so do we.

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Gavin McCann

A dipsomaniac funambulist steadying himself on life’s tightrope through the medium of writing. I “suffer” from diphallic terata with mild polyorchidity. Like a dug wi’ two dicks.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Take A Lenny Neil

  • 12 March, 2013 at 2:44 pm
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    Agree with most of what you say James, however, given the disgraceful treatment that Lennon receives in Scotland, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides enough is enough. In fact, there are rumours that he has put his house up for sale.

    With that in mind, I would like to see Henrik Larsson given the opportunity now that he has left Landskrona. Given his legendary status at Celtic already and the fact he had 2 seasons learning the training methods of Barcelona and has also gained managerial experience over the last 2 years, I think we have the perfect opportunity to create something special if he is given the chance.

  • 12 March, 2013 at 11:02 pm
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    Players will go – I also think you can add amrose, lustig & commons to forster, hooper, wanyama & matthews – the money we receive for whoever goes should be added to the CL income and invested in various ways:-
    increase Neil Lennon’s contract (& John Park’s)
    buy some more young players with potential that we can develop and sell for a profit
    do up / demolish the old school and set up a decent museum / restaurant / bar / bookies for fans to use on matchdays
    and reduce the cost of season tickets by at least £100

    NL knows he will be rebuilding every season, hopefully, this will stop him getting stale / bored.
    The fans need to be rewarded as well – everybody knows football is over priced – lets reduce season ticket prices – by all means keep the CL packages at a premium (if we ever make it again), but it’s time the fanswho turn up every week were looked after.

  • 13 March, 2013 at 1:07 am
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    Good headline. And good to see a balanced, objective appraisal of Neil Lennon’s achievements, rather than the usual knee-jerk, jump-in comments to boot him out after mere set-backs in the domestic games. That said, the LC SF defeat to St.Mirren was a shambles; I feared the worst the moment NL started talk of the treble.

    The problem I see is we’re trying to compete in the CL with its greater demands, and now, after this season’s exploits, greater fan expectation against competing in the SPL with lower fan interest and the subsequent reduced income. It’s a paradox of modern football, particularly in Scotland, that clubs cannot live on caviar alone – it needs the bread and butter of the domestic competitions.

    The CL money, and any profit on player sales, is not a net gain. It will need to off-set the loss of domestic income from reduced attendances, and, any loss on players bought and sold at a loss. How much was Efrain Suarez bought and sold for? Players come-and-go, which I think most fans now accept as being an unwelcome, but necessary, part of the modern game. I’m now beyond the stage of getting annoyed by those who start touting themselves about, angling for a transfer ‘to a bigger club’ before the name printed on their shirts have had time to cool: Wanyama to name but one; Bangura but two…

    The key in maintaining a core of team that can be relied upon to produce results, and further develop as a team – manage the throughput. Too much too soon and we’re back at season 1 with Neil, or worse, with the Mowbray Mayhem. Even more important to ensuring continuity and development of the squad as a whole, and the team in particular, is exactly as you say. Retaining the management team, and backroom staff. So in appearing to endorse all that you’ve said, it renders my comments redundant!

  • 13 March, 2013 at 1:26 pm
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    John

    I always hope that when players leave Celtic, it’ll be for Manchester Utd or City. Spurs, Arsenal etc.,

    With no disrespect to teams like Stoke, Aston Villa etc., I don’t see the attraction bar the big salary (which I don’t blame players going for). But FFS show some ambition. Go to the Continent, play for a Team who compete in Europe.

    If they go outwith Top 5/6 in England, what’s the point? No chance of Europe or Trophies.

    Still, the money will alleviate the disappointment.

    Gavin

  • 13 March, 2013 at 4:18 pm
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    We need to get out of the SPL otherwise we shall be having this discussion again.Celtic are a massive club but the League we play in does not produce enough income hence no big players want to come to us whilst on the rise in their career!We shall always do alright in Scotland but I think I could win the SPL if I was boss of the Bhoys especially nouw the old enemy are no more.Penny will probably stay at least another season & we shall find nee player

  • 15 March, 2013 at 3:52 pm
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    I have mixed feelings about this, Gavin, being that I now live in England. On the one hand, I agree with you and want them to go to a club at the top of the EPL and show they are good enough in any league. On the other, I hate us then being seen as a feeder club to teams supported by my mates. It’s a bit like courting a beautiful lassie: you shower her with gifts, compliments, and unconditional affection. You spend months wining, dining, and enjoying the happiest moments of your lives, together. You allow yourself momentary thoughts of what the future may hold. Then, just as things start to get to what is euphamistically termed ‘serious’, after many, many, months of grappling around with the most unyielding of bra clips, which you’ve just about mastered…your best mate comes along and does her in the shower!!!! Heartbreaking.

    Sadly, it is all about the money. There are some who will play at clubs and in leagues where they have a greater chance of winning trophies and medals – but I think these are in the minority. The sad truth is, they’ll retire with a bank full of money, into their lavishly decorated mansion houses – and a trophy and medal cabinet that is bare.

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