This season has taught us several things and confirmed the age old adage of ‘Football’s a funny old game.’ For going on 5 years we have been used to and all have taken part in singing the 10 in a Row song. Arrogance. That’s the first lesson we need to learn from. Our own big fat arrogance that led us to believe we were only prophesying what lay ahead in the future. We were lording it up in the best way only football fans can. We were brash, elitist, self assured and unrepentant in glorifying and dancing on the grave of our biggest rivals whose demise was rightfully seen as justified and wholly deserving for their cheating and their own arrogance.
We as a fan base and more importantly, as a club, did not plan properly for a defence of the ultimate title goal of 10 in a Row. We sat back and basked in the sunshine believing the new entity of the rivals across the city would not, could not, possibly win a title because they were only a nine year old club. We even thought our biggest threat would be a turn in fortunes for Aberdeen or Hibs and they would be our biggest stumbling block on the run to Ten but that wouldn’t happen either. There were concerns after the first few games of the season and particularly Europe that things weren’t looking as planned and Celtic could be Celtics biggest problem in defending our league trophy. This is exactly what played out.
It shouldn’t have though. We were in a position of Ultimate Power with the biggest bank balance in Scotland and the best squad of players in the League. We as a support have encouraged and backed the team along the way. We had a £9m striker up front whose value had rocketed to £35m because he was one of the best strikers out there and doing it convincingly for his French International team in abundance. Everything was in place and during the 9 in a Row season everything felt right. Why wouldn’t the fans be singing and dancing of what was expected and to translate to the players on the pitch, the importance, the necessity, the guts to deliver. So it was no surprise that the fans were giving it big.
We trusted the players too much and whatever happens, we have to accept they are not Celtic fans. They don’t have the same attachment as the man who attends the games and drains his household income in support of Celtic. The same man who misses out on work overtime because he will be at the game or travelling around after his team. These players will never know that side of the game. They have let us down badly and the body language during game time suggests they don’t really care. They are fortunate in the fact that due to COVID they do not have to turn out in front of our fans because they would have nowhere to hide. The support has in the past been quick to relay to Griffiths and Boyata that we don’t accept lack of class in those Green & White Hoops.
I was willing to give this team the benefit of the doubt at the start of the season and believed because this was the core group, albeit with £15m worth of talent added, that had been over the course and had won trophies easily. I even said “These Bhoys aren’t at fault. They have won so much, backed each other and fought for the fans. They don’t become poor overnight. It has to be the management team.” I like the majority of others wanted Lennon to turn it around and lead us to 10 in a Row. We could see the problems appearing. Remember the Mikey Johnson injury where Lenny was clearly seen telling the lad to “* Off.” His behaviour was a growing cause for concern when we watched him sit back with feet up and constantly looking * off. When we went a goal down, instead of the usual Lennon who would be yelling very animated and kicking every ball, he looked nonplussed and despondent.
It was the management that was dragging this team down. Was there turmoil between Neil Lennon and John Kennedy? Did Lennon have Gavin Strachan forced upon him? What was the board and Lawell in particular doing in all this obvious slump of fortunes? We heard all the soundbites and usual nonsense from the CEO telling us there was nothing to see and there was no form slump. It was a lack of good luck and lack of fans. We had all the possession, 30 shots on goal blah, blah, blah and it will all turn itself around. Bollocks. We knew from afar with little info that there was serious problems at play. We wanted Lennon and this incompetent management team relieved of their duty. We wanted swift action to at least have an attempt at having a chance.
This was where our owner Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawell allowed their arrogance to come into play. They knew best and the fans knew nothing and Neil Lennon was the man to lead the way. So far removed are this board from the lifeblood of the club they actually behaved like petulant children who would refuse to do what they were asked. They put their own egos before the success of the club and what was best for the team. This was evident when they eventually admitted that change was needed a couple of months later by parting ways with Neil Lennon but they still played petulant by putting John Kennedy in charge. Another person who was pivotal in our demise and the fans wanted him gone, not rewarded.
John Kennedy has shown nothing really in regards to picking the team up and getting them at least to go full tilt until the end of the season. A couple of results against the Huns and a Scottish Cup win could soften the blow. Not to be because it’s still the same management team minus its leader. Maybe that is telling in itself that Lennon was not solely to blame. A football team anywhere in any league usually respond to a change in management or the removal of a problem but not this lot and this is where I have changed my mind. I no longer will make an excuse for these players. I’m not buying into the theory that they weren’t being coached and didn’t know what they were doing. I still believe the management were at fault for a lot but they certainly can’t go onto the pitch and hold these guys hands.
These players are supposed to be playing at a very high level in world football. A few poor performances in a Celtic shirt can be bad luck or playing with injury etc but this whole team except one or two have given nothing this season. They can’t defend, they can’t turn in most chances, they don’t work for each other, make space or show signs of fight or determination. Most of this can’t be coached. This team even on the pitch looks as if they can’t stand the sight of each other. The spirit of the team is gone and it has no soul. There has been a split in the dressing room all season and for me that is now evident. It wasn’t just a management problem. For whatever reason these guys don’t like this team and so many are now looking away. They can leave immediately for all that I care, because they have not shown any signs that things will smooth out and next season they will be pulling together. Spoilt rotten.
We have a chance to start fresh from top to bottom. Lennon is gone and hopefully his management team will quickly follow. Lawell has been replaced with Dominic McKay and I pray he is the real deal and someone who will relate better with our fans. I would also be delighted if we could boot the Tory flag wavers into touch. Ian Bankier as Celtic FC Chairman is unforgivable and embarrassing in regards to the history of our great club. We have a great chance to implement a new coaching system and get back to the roots that Tommy Burns worked day and night to achieve. A top professional club of our stature should have a complimentary training facility and structure to produce talent and find talent that will enhance our chances to gain more trophies and progress in Europe. Also players that are proud and grateful to wear the shirt again.
After the crumbling and burning down of the European Super League aspirations there is now rumblings about a British League that is inclusive of Celtic and The rangers. There will be many views and opinions that will support this and those who dismiss it. At the moment I’m in the latter camp. I want us to concentrate on rebuilding a bigger better Celtic within Scottish Football. I don’t want us to lose or dilute our identity and for me any amalgamation threatens our very traditions. It will only serve to further enhance the egos of the board members and will only put a bigger wedge between the hierarchy and the fans. Currently that is a wide enough gulf without us whoring ourselves out to men with big pockets full of money. It is no different for me as the supposed European Super League.
As for future arrogance, maybe we should not put all our eggs in the one basket. Things can change very quickly. Next season will be interesting but we have some very serious groundwork to carry out first.