Definitely not a notable date in the history of Celtic football club but as a snake slithered away, a prodigal son returned to fix the hole left by a “Good Celtic man.” Personally I was delighted to see Neil Lennon return to the job he had walked out on and with unfinished business. I knew with Lenny back at the helm it would crank up the atmosphere and create that raw emotions that came in Hearts and rangers games. This was the man who winds opposition fans up so much because he is a ginger haired taig from Lurgan. He stirred trouble wherever he has been and brings it all on himself.
I think by now we well know what makes Neil Lennon tick and the raw passion he shows. The intelligence he brings to the press gatherings where you could listen to the man all day. He has sacrificed so much for this club since the first day he kicked a ball in a Celtic jersey and we know the problems that came with that. This would be Lenny’s third stint at the club and the majority were glad to see him back. The more debated long term vision with questions of direction. Fans were split on the full time appointment of a manager, some behind Neil, some saying he can take us no further and some would wait and see the outcome in the months ahead. Myself, I was in the latter camp and comfortable on the fence.
Immediately Lennon came in and made the right noises to get the fans and players on his side and was helped by a backbone of the squad that had previously played under the boss. His biggest bonus was his affinity with club captain and dressing room influence, Scott Brown. This was working out to be a smooth transition and not too much of an upset of what was a shock to say the least. This was not about one person. This was about the club as a whole and Lennon stated as much.
Neil Francis Lennon.... "It's been a whirlwind 24-36 hours. The most important thing is the club. We've lost a manager who will go down as one of the greats and I've got big shoes to fill obviously. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
On players looking away.......
"Once you leave Celtic it's not the same. It's a very special club - very special support," he said.
"I know from my own experience and players who I played with, once you leave the club there's a bit of a hole there. Something in your spirit that isn't quite the same. It's magical. This club provides for players and if they are thinking about leaving then I'll make them think twice."
A re-baptism of fire lay awaiting on the same evening in the shape of a visit to the intimidating hate filled cesspit of Tynecastle. Craig Levein’s Hearts teams are well known for leaving the boot in when it comes to welcoming the Hoops. Definitely one of the best but hostile away grounds we visit these days and always nice to take the fizz out of the diets. A hateful outfit from top to bottom. 2019 saw the Celts on an unstoppable run with nine wins in nine and one goal conceded. So the away support were expecting another victory and showed support for Lennon and also a large banner with something about snakes or serpents.
Hearts 1-2 Celtic 27/03/19 SPL.
Hearts started this game with fire in their bellies and the big 6ft4 striker Ikpeazu was battering away at our centre pairing of Boyata and Ajer and nearly successful a couple of times. Slowly Celtic started to muscle their way into the game and it soon became a contest with a few tasty personal feuds taking place all over the park. On 36 mins Celtic took possession of a poor Hearts free kick and the industrious Ewan Henderson would start a deadly attack. Quick passing to Burke to Sinclair to Forrest goal. A tap in but the build up was beautiful. 44 mins would see Hearts reduced to 10 after Brandon tried to decapitate Tolijan with a smashing elbow. Red card GTF “Referees eye.” Celtic would let the Tynecastle diets back in on 56 mins when the opposition were awarded a penalty. Bain short changed Ajer with a soft pass and Cameroon international Djoum was on to it and closing in when Ajer scythed him down. Penalty taken by Bozanic and scored 1-1 and game on. Celtic were looking laboured and slow play gave Lenny the decision to bring on Edourd and this would pay big dividends. When it looked like a share of the spoils and 10 man Hearts defending stoutly from each Celtic attack it came down to the last passage of play. A wonderful Scott Brown pinpoint pass over the Hearts defence and onto the boot of Edourd to volley and smash into the Hearts net. Cue bodies falling over rows of seats in celebration at the away end. A big win and another great night in Tynecastle and always has more menace than day time fixtures at the same ground. Edinburgh Pt1 victory. Onto Scottish Cup and Hibernian.
Hibernian 0-2 Celtic. 02/03/19 Scottish Cup Qtr final.
A return to his previous employers and a chance for a “get it up ye” and prized place in the semis on the road to a possible triple treble. Out went Henderson and Tolijan for the return of Mika Lustig and Odsonne Edourd and a positive looking Celtic team that was set up to attack. First half was pretty solid for the men in luminous yellow and black and should have seen us two or three goals up with the big share of possession. It was the second half that would see the Celts get their sights on the prize and upped the Pressure. A corner kick was awarded to the visitors that Scott Sinclair stepped up to take. From behind Scott on the left an empty Buckfast bottle was flung and landing around 10” from the player. Willie Collum held up play and handed over the bottle to Police. Funny nobody was arrested with so much Police and security in that part of the stadium and nothing has been heard from SFA on the matter. It seemed to make the Bhoys a bit incensed and we turned the screw with a wonder goal from possible player of the year candidate, James Forrest. An absolute blaster driven right past Marciano in goal for the Hibees 62 mins. The onslaught continued and Hibs began to attack but left gaps which Celtic punished. Step up “Midfield General” Scott Brown with a rattle from 14 yards and scored his third goal in six games. Quite prolific for the Captain. Celtic 2-0 and into the Semis at Hampden. Hibs first defeat in four and Celtics 11th straight victory in all domestic competitions.
Celtic 0-0 Aberdeen. 09/03/19. SPL
Lenny’s first game back home and a chance for the whole support to give him thunder. Unfortunately the team didn’t deliver the lightning. 66% Possession. 2 shots. 11 corners. Says it all. Sorry, nothing to see here.
Dundee 0-1 Celtic. 17/03/19. SPL.
Nearly 65% possession for the Tic at Dens Park in what would prove to be a frustrating game that was hard on the eyes. 24 shots on goal for Celtic and a bucket full of those from Sinclair and Forrest. Some for McGregor as well but the Dundee Keeper Seny Dieng was earning his keep with some good handling and blocks. The Dundee defence stuck rigidly and made it hard for Celtic’s constant attacks to break through. Scott Bain saved the away sides blushes on a couple of occasions that Dundee actually got over the halfway line. This game was more or less a write off until the last ten minutes. Celtic looked like they could score late again for victory but the longer Dundee stood tall it looked like a share of points. Celtic made hard work of this fixture but a last gasp 90+6 mins winner when Forrest calmly played in Edourd to be saviour again and another 3 points. Extending our lead in the league over the filth.
Celtic 2-1 Huns. 31/03/19. SPL.
Lenny’s return to the Celtic dugout would see an anticipated Glasgow derby that is always sweeter in victory when Neil Lennon is in charge. More so than when the snake was in charge as he was always magnanimous in victory. They hate Lennon with a passion and Scott Brown comes second but not even close to the Ginger Taig from Lurgan. This game will be remembered as the Scott Brown game. The one where he went walk about in the head of each and every player in the rangers team. The one where he is to blame for everything even inciting the small visiting support by looking in their direction. Since then the SFA has handed Broony a 2 game ban and as of writing he is prime suspect in the Notre Dame fire and also behind the freak Easter weather we are basking in, oh and the Brexit fiasco. The game itself was not a thing of beauty and the most enjoyable part was seeing the huns, players and fans to a man, all losing the * plot.
27 mins. Odsonne Edourd skipped away running the length of the rangers half to drive home for the breakthrough 1-0. He likes these tussles with the huns as it was his 4th goal in 5 derbies.
33 mins. Morelos you dirty bassa GTF. Red card for smashing Brown in the face with an elbow. Only the 5th time this season for the animal but still Broony’s fault. OFF, huns, 10 men. Morelos doesn’t enjoy these tussles, 0 goals against the good guys.
Celtic were absolutely dominant in the first half and should have been out of sight by half time. The second half everyone was expectant of a few more goals coming from the Bhoys. As it turned out, Steven Gerrard had told his team “don’t let this slip,” (maybe that was a different game) and they came out and showed a lot more effort and determination while the Hoops seemed to stand back and watch.
63 mins: on loan Liverpool player Ryan Kent had shown a few flashes of decent play in the previous second half minutes but was against the overall run of play when the rangers equalised. Kent showed good skill to make the goal for himself but Celtic were in sleeping bags. Maybe we’ll buy him for the reserves.
86 mins: big Eddy who was given free reign by Lennon to run riot in the game was pivotal in the winning goal by Wee Jimmy. Edourd swivelled and turned and cooly slotted a pass for Forrest to strike home the winner. My choice for player of the year and one of the best mids in Europe. Always nice to beat the filth and especially with Lenny in charge.
The huns by this stage we’re losing the plot all over and it was all that bad bhoy Browns fault. The kind of guy your mum didn’t like you hanging around with. Straight after Forrest’s goal Brown was having a bit of fun when Ryan Kent punched him in the face. He stayed on the pitch??? I know. This was to be immortalised by der hun as a screen saver or profile pic in every corner of social media. They will go their graves happy.
93 mins: the final whistle. Job done and 3 points. That wasn’t all. Andy Halliday ran half the pitch to confront Broony for having the audacity to celebrate victory. Classless. Browns fault again. Especially when Scott Bain and Brown decided to laugh at him instead of slapping him one.
Overall a strange game but a win is a win over the unwashed and the Huns players needed psychiatric treatment after taking the bait of Broony. Cigar and sunglasses.
St Mirren 0-2 Celtic. 03/04/19. SPL.
Away to relegation favourites St Mirren in Paisley and always a handy wee jaunt across town. A decent Wednesday night for a game at the ‘Simple Digital Arena’ with Celtic in their Black and Yellow strips. Actually preferred Love Street for obvious reasons stemming back to Albert Kidd day in 1985. This was one of the very few games where both Burke and Weah had started together and turned out to be a good shout. Burke within the first lot of minutes let the St Mirren defence know they were in for a game. The Buddies fell behind as early as the 14th minute due to an alert Weah who stuck his head on the ball and watched it bounce on the underside of the bar and over the line for a goal. Celtic were all over the Saints and Callum McGregor was chiefly orchestrator and supplier of a few passes when a Celtic player should have scored. Back of the class Ajer and Burke. Sssshhhhh say nothing because a handball by Kellermann in St Mirrens box resulted in a Celtic penalty. Back from injury Ntcham stepped up to strike it but it was well saved by goalie Vaclav Hladky and Olivier can join the back of the class and all.
Second half Burke shot straight into Hladky from 12 yards and went down as a poor effort. Up the other end St Mirren started to gather momentum and two shots in quick succession needed Scott Bain to be alert with one he finger tipped round the post. Ryan Christie was introduced into the fray on 63 mins for Ntcham and the little magician picked the pace up and looked lively. Some idiot in the Celtic end thought it would be a great idea to throw a pyro onto the pitch near the Saints goalie and he looked in shock. Made sensational headlines next day of course. The second goal came in 85 minutes and was scored by Christie which came in the form of a deflection but they all count.
Celtic 0-0 Livingston. 06/04/19. SPL.
Another 3 points was the order of the day at the home of the champions. Livingston arrived at a time where they were lingering in the bottom end of the table. And this point gained by Gary Holts team was all down to one man, Liam Kelly. He thwarted chance after chance in the first half and guarded his sticks well and I’d go as far to say it was his performance of the year. Second half was more of the same. 18 shots and 73% possession and Celtic could manage nothing and were criminally wasteful in front of the visitors Goals.
Injury time saw the ball fall to Burke and from three yards out the lad blazed the ball. Livingston were worth the draw and Celtic would have to wait for Title celebrations.
Aberdeen 0-3 Celtic. 14/04/19. SCSF. Hampden Pk.
Just over a month since the 0-0 draw between these sides at Celtic Park and in truth confidence was not high amongst the support after a few abject performances. We shouldn’t have fretted too much as the Bhoys set about Aberdeen in the Celtic way. Players knew their job and the incentive of a last game of the season showpiece back at the National stadium and with a treble threw in had whetted their appetites. Aberdeen were trying to throw their weight around and with no goals just after the half hour mark Dominic Ball would receive his marching orders. Second yellow and what can only be described as an assault on Christie which left our bhoy needing stretchered off. Fractured eye socket and broken cheek bone and his season is done after so much contribution when he finally got his chance. Rogic replaced young Christie. The Dons job just got harder and Celtic used the advantage to stretch and play around Aberdeen without much reply. First half stoppage time (45+2) saw Forrest put the hoops ahead and it had been coming.
Second half and it was a matter of time for Celtic’s next goal and it arrived in the form of a penalty on the hour mark. Devlin pushed Hayes over in the box and referee Craig Thompson pointed to the spot. Edourd hit it and scored. 2-0. 67 mins would see Lewis Ferguson hit the showers after a red and big Tam Rogic would wrap the game up with a pinpoint finish. Down to 9 men and the manager McInnes and his assistant showed the players the right attitude by getting sent to the stand. 4 reds a stretchered off Celtic player and penalty kick was too much for the Granite sheep gobblers in Lenny’s best game since his return.McInnes claims to have been religiously profiled by the Celtic support and suggestions from the offices at the SFA indicate that Scott Brown staged it all.
“My, my, my beautiful Sunday.....” and onwards to hopefully skelp the diets in the final for the first time since 1956.
Hibernian 0-0 Celtic. 21/04/19. SPL.
The title will have to be put on ice a bit longer, again. From a position of power, 13pts well off and buzzing for Neil Lennon’s team to pull further away to this flat feeling as it has been clawed back to 9 points. These players obviously don’t realise the significance of how they will be remembered as among the most successful Celtic sides trophy wise. They look lethargic and flat and clueless on breaking down stodgy defences. No Burke, Weah on at 84 mins and Biton and Rogic nowhere near the action. This game yo-yo’ed back and forth without either team looking like they would score. Not a great game to watch and won’t be singled out as a significant game in the chase for the title. Only in the last ten minutes and no surprise, the introduction of Timo Weah, did the hoops come to life but the efforts were well marshalled by the Hibs keeper.
A summary of all the games played since the return of Neil Lennon and it was not going to be a walk in the park due to the circumstances of being left high and dry at an important stage of the season. The transition was seamless and the first two wins in Edinburgh had us believing Lenny could slot back in and take charge permanently. As stated above I was on the fence and after these games I also was hoping for a public backing from the board for a guy who has shown what loyalty is all about. Then the home performances became turgid affairs and tactics were falling a bit short of the standards set from the turn of the year. Granted the team had a shocker under the snake in the first four months of the campaign but under a new manager the players should be busting their balls to show the appreciation to Neil Lennon.
The game against the huns and 1-0 up we were totally dominant and cruising and how we hadn’t scored a few more was crazy. We then proceeded to let a below average football side with 10 men back into the game with an equaliser. Yesterday’s latest 0-0 was the fourth bore draw since 27th of February and it is again a question of team selection or tactics or both. Possession play is not the problem because we average around 63% each game. We just don’t have the killer instinct. Ive climbed back over the fence and for the moment I am on the side of not convinced with Neil Lennon taking us forward. We have a team of players who should be blowing teams away domestically for fun. Actually showboating and enjoying the football for the players and fans alike. Coming toward 8 league titles in a row and I feel it’s an effort to watch the games. When may plays out I hope for our path forward that we have a good solid management team in and ready for the qualifying of the Champions League and that is something Rodgers never seemed to be. No more patched up squad going for gold. Let’s get the players in who will achieve gold. But for now I can’t see Lennon bringing us into a new season. Maybe I’ll be less critical when another treble is back in Paradise. “To be, or not to be. That is the question.”
- Scottish Premier League (5): 2000–01, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2006–07
- Scottish Cup (4): 2000–01, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2006–07
- Scottish League Cup (2): 2000–01, 2005–06
15 trophies for Celtic makes for a good haul. Here’s to two more.
- Scottish Premier League (2): 2011–12, 2012–13
- Scottish Premiership: 2013–14
- Scottish Cup (2): 2010–11, 2012–13