Celtic is now at a crossroads in its history. The modernization of the club which took place in the Fergus McCann era and beyond, has ground to a stuttering halt. McCann evoked many responses from the broad church which constitutes the Celtic support. Put crudely, love him or hate him, with wee Fergus you knew where you stood. He was decisive, consistent and never ducked a bullet. These traits enraged some and enthralled others. In short, McCann to use a terrible cliché, had vision. There is a very clear lack of vision and strategy at Celtic right now.
There can be no doubt that Peter Lawwell is a clever, able man who has Celtic’s best interests at heart. Much is made of his fiscal prudence, of his ability to get good deals for Celtic in the transfer market. Much of this is undoubtedly true, but the key decision to appoint Tony Mowbray must be laid at his feet and those of his associates. Hindsight is a great thing, and now safe in the knowledge that Mowbray was the wrong appointment, we have to ask the vital question, can we trust them to get it right this time?
Neil Lennon might appeal to Lawwell for several reasons. The first reason is that Neil is cheap and cheerful. He is already a Celtic employee with no managerial experience with everything to prove. He would cost virtually nothing to hire and his personal terms would be modest. Secondly, he is an extremely popular ex-player who would be the populist choice. Finally, there is the more contentious issue of his Irish, Catholic background.
However, simply being of a certain ethnic and religious background should not in itself be a qualification for the job.
All of these points would indicate that for all his personal qualities, it would be absurd to appoint Neil Lennon as manager of Celtic. A massive club requires a manager who has the requisite skills and experience to take the club forward.
The Celtic Board needs to make a very public statement by hiring a proven, tried and tested manager whatever the cost. Moreover, the new manager needs to be backed with substantial sums to bring in quality to a squad which is shallow and lacking in talent.
Simply trying just to keep ahead of Rangers on and off the field is not the way forward. Rangers are not the benchmark, they never have been. In recent times, the one accusation that could be levelled against the Celtic Board was that they were too conservative in the transfer market. Whereas Celtic undoubtedly spent more than Rangers both in terms of wages and transfers, it should be remembered that this is at a time when Rangers are effectively bankrupt.
In narrow financial terms in language that Peter Lawwell might appreciate, Celtic need to speculate to accumulate. Hiring a competent, experienced man to deliver success at Celtic is not an extravagance, it is a must. The alternative does not bear thinking about. The Celtic Board should do the right thing.