The weaknesses in Celtic’s side are there for all to see and the manager is the only man capable of sorting them out. But from what we’ve seen so far during his time at the helm, Lennon is prone to repeated misjudgement. Celtic’s admirable scouting network has brought in several talented and interesting players over recent years. Many of whom; Marc Crosas, Jos Hooiveld, Efran Juarez, Dominic Cervi and Morten Rasmussen have been bluntly denied a sustained chance to contribute. Okay, perhaps some of them aren’t up to the mark, but will we ever know for sure?
Jock Stein famously claimed Celtic shirts “don’t shrink to fit inferior players.” Well why then have fans had to put up with the prolonged mediocre careers of players like Scott Brown, Mark Wilson and Georgios Samaras? I have in the past fought these players’ corners – but there comes a time when enough is enough. They’ve had plenty of opportunities to help Celtic but have taken the club and themselves as players nowhere. When others aren’t given a fair crack of the whip, why must we persist with these serial offenders? On top of these disappointments there’s players on Celtic’s wage bill who should never have been signed because they’re blatantly not good enough. If Celtic are going to accept our downgraded place in world football, we’re as well filling our squad with our own kids rather than paying the mortgages of journeymen on their way out of English football.
And here’s where my frustration at Neil Lennon’s Celtic reaches it’s zenith. We’re imminently about to sign 33 year-old former Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg. Ljungberg was a key component in the great Arsenal side of the early part of the century. But even in his pomp, with his trademark late runs into the penalty area, I always felt his game relied heavily upon the clever through-balls and flicks of Bergkamp, Henry and Pires. Without these talented comrades assisting him Ljungberg always looked limited. Such limitations will look all the more exaggerated with age and playing next to inferior players. This transfer reminds me of Martin O’Neill signing Stéphane Henchoz or Rangers desperate previous punts for Marcus Gayle, Emerson and James Beattie. It implies a small time mindset obsessed with the English Premier League and heroes from it’s past – no matter how far into that past you’re willing to go.
As I write Neil Lennon’s Celtic continue to spin. But who knows if that’ll be the case a week from now after a home game against Motherwell and a trip to our neighbours across the city. You’d be mad to suggest the Bhoys aren’t already wobbling. But maybe it’s all in my mind.