He has broken up the partnership of Hooper and Stokes – who had won every game they had started together this season and has gave chance after chance to players who have failed time and time again such as Samaras and Loovens. However, his worst mistaken this season was completely changing the formation and personnel of the team at the recent visit to Ibrox. Dropping two of the team’s more consistent performers of this season, Ledley and Forrest was a disaster and Samaras – who did play well against Rangers last season was invisible. The defence was unsurprisingly dire as usual and the 4-2 defeat was flattering to Celtic. To be fair Lennon hasn’t been helped by injuries to key men such as Kayal, Ledley and Izaguirre, but that should not prevent Lennon from picking his best available and sticking with it. It strikes me that once again he does not know what Celtic’s best team is and the results have suffered accordingly.
The responsibility of the players in the recent poor form also has to be examined. So many of Celtic’s more ‘important’ players have been extremely poor this season. Fraser Forster has been nervous and does not strike anyone as a commanding goalkeeper, any of the central defenders used – be it Loovens, Wilson or Majstorovic have proven to be dreadful. Up front the players have flattered to deceive like Hooper or Stokes, or just plain bad like Samaras. However, the player who has probably summed up the dire season so far is Kris Commons. Dropped after missing a penalty on the home defeat to St.Johnstone, he then had a ‘personality clash’ (allegedly) with Lennon and didn’t play for a month. He then came back versus Hearts and was deservedly sent-off. That a player who was so vital last season has turned out to be a disaster this season sums up what is going wrong at Celtic. It strikes me that the players – who remember failed to win the league last season – just don’t seem up to the responsibility of what it means to play for a club like Celtic. A rare exception to this would be Charlie Mulgrew, who has overcame his limitations to become a vital player in the squad, but I suppose that sums up far the team has fallen since 5 years ago.
The board of directors also have to play their part in this season’s malaise, with Neil Lennon once again forced to shop in the bargain basement and sign players who aren’t of Celtic standard. This could be due to the ‘Director of Football’ role which seems to be played by both Peter Lawwell and John Park, who seem to have as much involvement in what players are brought in as Lennon does. Case in point – Lennon goes to Portugal to sign Baba Diawara and the next day the deal is off due to ‘work permit’ issues and Bangura is signed the next day. Obviously Diawara was a player Lennon wanted very badly – but was Bangura? It would be interesting to find out who really signs the players at Celtic.
In conclusion, the time is right for all three of the main parties at Celtic to take collective responsibility for what is going wrong and resolve – very quickly- to put things right. But I fear that this may not happen and Lennon – aided by his mistakes and the players’ ineptitude – will end up hung to dry by the board. And soon enough the fans will be congregating on Kerrydale Street once more with the cries of “Sack The Board”.