Celtic might be in deep trouble at the moment but here are three ways Neil Lennon could still end up saving their 10IAR campaign.
Once again Neil Lennon has defied the odds and the moods of many Celtic fans as he remains in the manager role. The board have provided backing through an unequivocal statement. The club then move into an ongoing period of uncertainty, pressure, tension and who knows what else.
Everything becomes critical when the team is performing this badly. Even now we can see people debating the meaning behind the way in which Lennon and John Kennedy look at each other (or don’t!) on the touchline during games. Such seemingly small things sparking endless debate over whether they are able to work effectively as a unit or if the relationship has broken down.
One thing is clear though, Lennon is here to stay for a while at least. The club statement indicates he stays into January. Presumably seeking to quieten the almost hourly clamour for a sacking or resignation. Though the pressure and questions won’t stop, it may help a little:
"“The Board continues to work closely with Neil and his team to support them as they seek to do so and progress will be reviewed in the new year.”"
Which means Lennon is highly likely to remain in charge for the following matches, with the board probably feeling the run of home games, combined with the Cup Final will help stabilise the team for a short while at least. That was presumably the thinking before the home cup and league matches against Ross County and St Johnstone too, which didn’t work out too well.
The fixture list shows:
- Home Lille 10 Dec.
- Home Kilmarnock 13 Dec.
- Scottish Cup Final Hearts 20 Dec.
- Home Ross County 23 Dec.
- Away Hamilton 26 Dec.
- Home Dundee Utd. 30 Dec.
- Away Rangers 2 Jan.
The focus remains on Lennon and the team. We’ll take a look here at three critical points to be overcome in this timeline. Each can make an enormous difference to what happens next.
- The January transfer window
- The Scottish Cup Final
- The Glasgow Derby
The January Transfer Window
This seems a long way off and something to be considered later, when we see how December has played out and decisions about who will be in charge. But that’s part of the ongoing problem, it needs planning now and a new boss arriving in January may have different views.
Planning for January will have been underway for a while. It always plays out slowly and frustratingly at times, but you’d expect potential new players and departures to be identified by now.
One of the current debates about the manager is how much say he has over signings. Did he want Duffy? How much influence is Lennon, with his questionable future at the club, going to get for January? If Celtic do manage to hire a top drawer manager, he will surely want a say and arriving in January would limit that.
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Add to that the difficulty of attracting quality players to a club in crisis, with goodness knows who in charge and the likelihood of a very tough few months ahead. It’s not an exciting proposition, is it?
Combine that with the stories of players wanting away during the summer and not being released. Players who Lennon said didn’t want to be at the club. It is unlikely that the disastrous start to our season has changed their minds. It’s going to be a very difficult window.
Celtic supporters may only have limited visibility of the transfer planning and goings on, they are more likely to see wild rumours in the media instead. How it is being handled by the club behind the scenes is critical for the rest of the season and beyond.
An early clue could come in terms of the goalkeeper situation, if Fraser Forster is indeed going to return then there is no point waiting until the end of the window.