By Ryan Fleming
It’s not the end of the world. Hope still remains that the top of the table can become Celtic’s come the end of the year. But Sunday morning’s 3-1 loss to their cross-town rival, Glasgow Rangers, once again raises questions for those who support Celtic.
Coming into this year the Hoops hired Neil Lennon, a former defensive midfielder and fan favorite, to take the post previously vacated by the sacking of Tony Mowbray. The Northern Irishman held the post for the back end of last season’s campaign, posting a spotless record in league competition.
Until now, Lennon completed little of what has been asked of him. SC Braga knocked the Hoops out of the Champions League and FC Utrecht humiliated the club out of the Europa League.
The loss to Gers at Celtic Park on Saturday capitalized all the questions surrounding the young, inexperienced manager. While those questions fade when the team is doing well, they are more apparent than ever when the Hoops fumble.
To start, Lennon overhauled the previous team, selling Marc-Antoine Fortune back to West Brom, Aiden McGeady to Spartak Moscow, fan favorite, Artur Boruc to Fiorentina and Stephen McManus to what could be referred to as Celtic II, Middlesbrough. Those are just a handful of the players who left Celtic to continue their careers elsewhere. Lennon brought in a comedy of little-known players like Joe Ledley of Cardiff City, Beram Keyal of Maccabi Haifa and Charlie Mulgrew of Aberdeen.
There were others to arrive at Celtic Park like Efrain Juarez, Gary Hooper and Cha Du-Ri, but as time has gone on, it is increasingly apparent this “talent” isn’t good enough.
For a team that constantly complains about their lack of funds, being eliminated for both the groups stages of the Champions League and Europa League was truly devastating. What tops it off is that Rangers did not only qualify for the CL, but are succeeding. Gers will make a lump sum of money that Celtic will be without. Even the income from the second-rate EL would have been enough for the time being.
Celtic need to start going after names that people can recognize. Trying to find that diamond in the rough isn’t the way to go about it – a fact that Lennon is starting to realize.
Maybe Lennon is the problem. Perhaps John Reid and the Celtic board should have gone with someone who has achieved as a manager instead of a former player that would grab the fan’s backing immediately and unquestionably. Now, questions are starting to rise. Answers and results have to follow.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.