Former Celtic star’s Parkhead return was blocked by the board

Peter Lawwell and Neil Lennon, Celtic. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Peter Lawwell and Neil Lennon, Celtic. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) /

Celtic have endured a nightmare campaign in their quest to capture a historic 10IAR and Neil Lennon has had to shoulder the lion’s share of the blame. But the board do deserve their fair share as well for the club’s failures this season.

They have made a number of mistakes and one of them might have been standing in the way of one of Lennon’s wishes. It looks like the manager wanted to bring back Tommy Johnson to Parkhead in order to help with the recruitment. But the board had other ideas.

Instead, Nick Hammond was named as the club’s Head of Football Operations and it is safe to say that that has not gone according to plan.

The Hoops have endured one of their worst transfer windows in recent memory despite making significant investment. Shane Duffy, Albian Ajeti and Vasilis Barkas have all failed to make their mark since joining the club in the summer. The jury is still out on Diego Laxalt and David Turnbull has been the only success, although he has been a target for a long time now.

Neil Lennon wanted Tommy Johnson back at Celtic

While speaking with The Celtic Huddle Podcast, Johnson revealed that Lennon had wanted him to return to Parkhead to help with recruitment but the board were not very keen on the idea. As reported by the Glasgow Times, he said:

"“There’s been rumours and in the past I did actually go up and meet Peter Lawwell twice when Lenny wanted to bring us in last year.“The powers that be decided not to. Everybody knows once you’ve played for Celtic and how much it means to you, and Neil had asked me to come in.“Nick was in the process of coming in full-time and I think a couple of weeks later he was appointed.“I was all for coming up and helping Neil but it didn’t materialise. Lennon wanted us in to help out with recruitment, someone around him who he could talk to. You need, as a manager, someone you can talk to on a personal basis.“The powers that be decided against it.”"

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In hindsight, that does look like a mistake. Surely things could not have gone any worse than they have when it comes to the recruitment of players.

It is hard to see how the club decided to spend almost a combined £10 million on Ajeti and Barkas. Neither have shown much till now to justify that kind of an investment from the club. On the other hand, while Duffy is a good player in the right system, it is very clear that he does not fit Celtic’s possession based style of football, where you need to be good with the ball at your feet as well.

Probably things would have been much different if Johnson was at the club. He currently serves as the Head of Recruitment at Blackpool and has a decent reputation. As a result, not bringing him on board can easily be regarded as another mistake that the Hoops have made this season.

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