Celtic: What now for Neil Lennon after one other Sparta Prague humiliation?

Celtic: What now for Neil Lennon after one other Sparta Prague humiliation?

Neil Lennon's Celtic are out of Europe and trailing Rangers in the Scottish title raceNeil Lennon
Neil Lennon’s Celtic are out of Europe and trailing Rangers within the Scottish title race

Discuss, not like sure centre-halves, is reasonable. When Christopher Jullien sprang to Neil Lennon’s defence within the wake of Thursday evening’s debacle in Prague, he confirmed the type of certainty that was sadly missing within the 90 minutes that went earlier than.

Celtic followers would have been entitled to say that had the Frenchman and pals been as spectacular with a Sparta Prague participant in entrance of them as an alternative of a microphone then the membership may not have skilled one other in a lengthening line of mortifying experiences.

When backing his manger, Jullien turned the newest Celtic participant to talk up, Scott Brown and others having accomplished the identical. The champions’ dressing room has turn into a little bit of a speaking store nowadays. All phrases and little motion.

Lennon at a loss to clarify hunch

They’re all at it. When Sparta got here to Glasgow earlier this month and gained 4-1, Lennon stated this needed to be the tip of soft-touch Celtic. “This can be a turning level,” he stated. “It will not occur once more, that is for positive.” Twenty days, and three video games, later, it occurred once more. As soon as extra, Lennon is left to sift by way of a wreckage in an try to seek out one thing of worth. It isn’t a fairly sight.

A lot of what he stated on Thursday evening was determined. He did not assume they deserved to lose 4-1. Really, defending the best way they did, 4-1 was truthful sufficient. When Lennon talked up his group’s efficiency for 35 minutes of the second half it was the last word in straw-clutching. Nicely, maybe not the last word. There was reference, too, of the affect that taking part in in empty stadiums was having on his gamers. They had been “lacking the environment,” he stated. Making allowances for failure shouldn’t be look.

Lennon stated his group have been in a scenario like this earlier than and that they turned it round. He was speaking in regards to the 2-1 loss to Rangers at Celtic Park final season, a reverse that did, certainly, see many individuals query the mettle of his group. These questions had been met with an emphatic reply on the run-in.

The scenario now may be very totally different, nonetheless. Final season, Celtic had the type of credit score within the financial institution that they do not have now. Earlier than that December loss to Rangers they’d gained 16 of their earlier 17 video games. They’d crushed Lazio house and away, they’d defeated Rennes, they’d gained the League Cup closing in opposition to Rangers with 10 males, they’d scored 45 objectives and conceded solely 9.

At present they’re on a run of 21 objectives conceded in 9 video games. Lots of these objectives had been calamities perpetrated by an array of various folks. One of many issues Lennon stated on Thursday evening that was unarguable was that Celtic are “missing in confidence”. When he adopted up by saying he was scratching his head attempting to determine why that is the case it was a second of honesty that exposed weak point. Lennon didn’t come throughout as a supervisor in command.

It isn’t simply probably the most vocal who need him out now. For weeks if not months, there’s been a venom about a few of the criticism directed at him by small parts of the Celtic assist. It has been nasty and wholly unwarranted. He is deserved higher than the bitter invective from these cyber warriors.

Nearly all of followers have been way more circumspect, their evaluation measured. Lennon is dropping increasingly more of those folks. They’re going to admire him without end for what he is accomplished over 20 years as participant and supervisor however they’ve misplaced religion in his potential to take this group additional. The case for the prosecution is weighty and getting weightier by the week.

Celtic are reeling from successive 4-1 Europa League defeats to Sparta PragueSparta Prague v Celtic
Celtic are reeling from successive 4-1 Europa League defeats by Sparta Prague

Desmond going through massive resolution

How a lot does this matter? That is the query. Finally Dermot Desmond, the bulk shareholder, will make the choice to stay or twist on the managerial entrance. Peter Lawwell, the chief government, will likely be closely concerned, however Desmond is the one who pulls the strings.

Attempting to second-guess what Desmond is considering is a little bit of a problem. He isn’t a person who makes a behavior of showing issues to journalists. Famously, in a response to a crucial column within the Irish Instances, he despatched the author in query an extract from the poem, Nonetheless I Rise, by Maya Angelou…

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a shock

That I dance like I’ve bought diamonds

On the assembly of my thighs?

With all due respect to what Desmond has between his thighs, it is what he is bought between his ears that Celtic followers will likely be questioning about. He not often does interviews, however he did converse to The Athletic in September, when Celtic had been within the midst of an eight-game profitable run. His phrases predate the present disaster, however they’re the one factor we have got when it comes to attempting to determine what the primary man is perhaps considering.

Speaking in regards to the loss to Rangers final December and the membership’s refusal to panic, he stated: “That is what’s so good at Celtic. We’re unified, we do not have recriminations, we’re not right here to fireside any individual or blame somebody, we take collective duty.”

If that is nonetheless how he feels then Lennon goes to be given extra time to place issues proper. Desmond then spoke in regards to the character of his supervisor. “You underestimate Lenny at your peril,” he stated. “He is a really clever particular person. He is bought nice consciousness and integrity.”

You possibly can completely see the place Desmond is coming from. Lennon has overcome an terrible lot in his life. He is been subjected to sectarian abuse, bodily assaults on the street and deeply sinister plots within the publish. He took over as supervisor after the dejection of the Tony Mowbray period and made an enormous success of the job. He took over once more when Brendan Rodgers walked out and gained each trophy he was requested to win whereas realizing {that a} excessive share of followers did not actually need him there.

Supervisor in unchartered territory

That is totally different, although. That is two wins from 9 video games. That is 21 objectives conceded in speedy order. That is an early exit from the Champions League and one other early exit from the Europa League. This can be a widening hole between themselves and Rangers. This can be a assortment of gamers who’re mired in mediocrity and slapstick. This can be a assist who’ve misplaced confidence.

Desmond and Lawwell are loyal to Lennon, however how far does that loyalty stretch? At snapping level or nonetheless loads of elastic left? Only a few folks know the reality of that. They had been grateful to him for answering the decision when Rodgers left. They had been appreciative of him steadying the ship and steering house title quantity eight. They had been thrilled for him when he delivered title quantity 9. They may wish to give him each probability of constructing it 10.

Banners and social media outrage won’t affect Desmond all that a lot. In his enterprise life he would not have a fame for bowing to public stress. If something, he rails in opposition to it. The extra the followers say that Lennon should go, the extra he might imagine that Lennon should keep.

There must be a restrict on loyalty, although. Domestically, Celtic play Ross County (within the League Cup on Sunday) then St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Hearts (the Scottish Cup closing), Ross County once more, Hamilton and Dundee United earlier than the subsequent Previous Agency recreation. We’d not know Desmond’s and Lawwell’s mindset, however you do not have to be Nostradamus to determine {that a} slip in any of these video games could possibly be deadly.

Lennon is unsuitable when he says he is been right here earlier than. He hasn’t. He is in unchartered territory now.

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