Neil Francis Lennon, from Celtic icon to the man who blew the ten. Why can he not accept his part in last season’s collapse?

Neil Lennon, is he forever to be remembered as the man who lost the ten? We could easily blame him for the loss of our ultimate dream, our holy grail. If truth be told, Neil Lennon was only part of the problem that led to our total collapse last season. What is hard to accept today, is his unwillingness to accept any responsibility for his part in the loss of ten in row. In fact, nobody at Celtic Park accepts any responsibility for it, nobody has actually held up their hand and said, ‘we messed up, we blew it and we understand we could have done things better to ensure it didn’t happen.’

If anybody had done that, if anybody actually had the balls to do that, then maybe there would not be so much ill feeling and so much distrust towards the board today. But that’s for another day, today I want to focus on Neil Lennon. There was once a time when this man was revered by all of us, he was a hero, one of us and he got it. He understood what it meant to pull on the green and white hoops and he would run through walls for us. Some people still feel that way about him, there numbers are few now though.

After the Tony Mowbray experiment, the first of many, failed miserably, we expected the board would get their shit together. We naively thought they would appoint someone of a much higher calibre to stop Rangers 1872 from winning their second and third titles in a row. When Neil Lennon was announced as Mowbray’s successor, there were a lot of raised eyebrows. I myself thought it was either a stroke of genius or crass stupidity from Peter Lawwell and the board. When I say a stroke of genius, I mean that I thought at the time that they must have known something we didn’t know. They must have seen something in Neil Lennon’s coaching abilities that we didn’t see. But if I’m honest, the sensible part of me figured it was crass stupidity.

Lennon was a complete rookie and as we all know, just because someone was a great player, that does not automatically transform them into a great coach. Henrik Larsson is a perfect example of that and while Neil Lennon has won quite a few trophies as a coach, there were advantageous circumstances during both of his stints as coach here, which allowed that to happen. Rangers 1872’s death made it easy for him to win titles and cups during his first tenure, Brendan Rodgers legacy was what made it possible the second time around. I think its fair to say he scorched that legacy to the ground before he left Celtic Park.

Was he a bad coach? I don’t think you could say he was, but what you could say was that his style of management had a glass ceiling and each time he hit that ceiling, it shattered and the fallout was clearly evident for all to see. It happened at Bolton and it happened at Hibs. Every man and his dug could see a pattern emerging, except Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell.

The Hampden shower scene ripped the enjoyment out of the treble treble, because for most of us who were pragmatic, we knew it was the beginning of the end of our ten in a row dreams. I almost had a fist fight with two supporters from our CSC that day. They literally lost it when another supporter and I said we could kiss ten in a row goodbye. They raved and ranted about how it was preordained that Lennon would be the man to deliver the ten. Look how that turned out.

I could ramble all day long about the board and their actions and Neil Lennon and his actions last season, but the fact is, it would change absolutely nothing. What I want to focus on is today, now and the way Lennon is behaving. During his press conferences, Lennon at times, spoke very intelligently. This would indicate that there must be some level of intelligence to the man. However, when you look at his behaviour in the run up to and after his sacking as Celtic coach, it doesn’t resemble that of an intelligent man.

I’ll try to simplify this, if I was the manager of Celtic and I presided over the total collapse we witnessed last season, that would weigh very heavily on my conscience. I would find it very difficult to accept that I blew the chance of immortality. I would struggle with the fact that I let that slip from my grasp and that I had the chance to go down in history, to have my name mentioned alongside legends like Stein, Maley, McNeil and Johnstone. But here’s the thing, if I’d had the chance to become a legend at Celtic, then I would have done everything in my power to achieve that goal. I would have worked my socks off to ensure my team knew and cared for what was at stake. I would have left no stone unturned in the pursuit of the holy grail that was ten in a row. Very rarely do you get a shot at glory like that in your lifetime, if you do not take it with both hands, then you are a fool and you should never have been given that chance in the first place.

Therein lies the reality, Neil Lennon should never have been given that chance. He should never have been given responsibility for something as big as ten in a row and the blame for that decision lies with Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell. The reason Neil Lennon shows no remorse for losing ten in a row is because he never cared deeply enough about achieving it in the first place. If he had, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this article. The reason he won’t accept any responsibility for his part in it is because deep down, he knows he was never the right man for the job. So instead of letting it weigh on his conscience, he pushes the blame back on Lawwell and Desmond. In his own mind he says, ‘Well, they trusted me to do it, they knew my history. Their decision, their fault.’

Just like it was the players’ fault we were humiliated by Ferencvaros. They weren’t interested and they didn’t want to be there. They didn’t care about ten in a row either, they didn’t understand it or what it meant to the supporters. In life, if you’re a manager in any business and you manage people, you lead by example and if your example is good, then your people should reflect that. But as a manager, the buck stops at you, nobody else. You are held accountable for your people’s actions because you are their leader, its that simple. If you start to blame your people for everything that goes wrong, then you are no longer a manager and you are incapable of managing your team.

Last year’s squad were a reflection of their manager. They only reflected what he was doing and clearly their attitude was, if he doesn’t care about ten in a row, then why should we? You reap what you sow and all that. So now, Lennon sits in the pundits box and he has the audacity to criticise Ange Postecoglu and his players. He says they’re not good enough, so I ask myself, is this guy totally detached from reality? Was he even attached to the reality of last season? Clearly something is amiss when you think you can criticise the man tasked with cleaning up your mess. When you still cannot accept responsibility for your part in that mess, then it’s time to either step up and admit your faults or shut up.

Neil Lennon will only redeem himself with our support when he holds his hands up and admits he blew the chance of ten in a row. Even if he does that, it may too late as he has lost a hell of a lot of respect from the fanbase already. His credibility is shot as things stand. Sitting in the pundits box, criticising the current Celtic team is like blaming the fire you set yourself for burning your house down. ‘Yeah, I set the fire, but it was the fire that torched the house, not me.’ There is no logic to that kind of behaviour, other than you are too arrogant and egotistical to admit your failings.

The fact that he is too blind to see his behaviour is most likely the reason he’ll never get a credible management gig in his lifetime again. It’s actually sad that everybody can see that but him. We all felt his pain when he was attacked on the sideline at Hearts and when he received parcel bombs in the post, we were all there for him. The Celtic support idolised this man, is it too much to ask for some humility in return? Is it too much to ask for a bit of respect towards the thousands who respected him for so long?

Based on the way things currently stand and recent revelations in the Daily Record, Lennon has no intention of accepting any responsibility for last season, none. He openly blames all of the players for the loss of ten in a row. I’ll finish with this. You were their manager Neil, it was your job and your responsibility to motivate them, your job to ensure they were in the right mindset, your job to ensure they were fit and your job to drop them if they didn’t want to play, or sell them, if they didn’t want to be there. You did none of the above and that was very much reflected by what we witnessed last season. Accept that and we can all move on…..

2 thoughts on “Neil Francis Lennon, from Celtic icon to the man who blew the ten. Why can he not accept his part in last season’s collapse?

  1. Neil Lennon is a very smart person he knows exactly what he’s doing and saying, smells like a Non Disclosure Agreement to me with Desmond and Lawell and all three can’t and won’t say anything,just like the five way agreement Lawell and others at Celtic have never seen. The truth will out and they will be damned for it. HH.

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  2. As far as I’m concerned Lenny’s gone from a legend to a pariah that’s my honest summation of his situation. The fact he takes absolutely no responsiblity mean he’s a megalomaniac. This is the type of personality traits you see in sociopaths and serial killers and we all know he could cause an argument in an empty room. Hitler, Napoleon and the man who was voted greatest ever living Brit Churchill (I know I couldn’t believe a murdering racist, bigoted, misogynist got the vote either) had as inherrent personality disorders and Lennon might not be quite at their level but he shares a lot of the same characteristics. He’s killed the love most of us had for him although some will still think he could do no wrong, more fool them. As you rightly say immortality awaited the man who delivered the ten but the board let a world class manager leave because they wouldn’t match his ambition and I’m convinced if Rodgers was still at Celtic we’d have been looking at fourteen or fifteen in a row. The way BR left would leave a bad taste for us all but he’ll be remembered more warmly than Lenny in the annals of the club’s history now and Lenny’s brought that on himself. When you make a monumental error like he did, own it, you might not want to but at least you’d get the supporters respect.

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