Celtic’s Deep Rooted Problems – The Chief Executive, The Manager & The Captain

Celtic were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League qualifying stages after they lost 4-3 at home to Romanian champions CFR Cluj (BBC Match Report).

For the second season running the Scottish Premiership champs have failed to reach Europe’s elite and money spinning group stages.

In both seasons it’s been Celtic’s own fault.

Last year they failed to bring in new recruits to bolster their squad for the difficulties qualifying brings. This term they’ve made more signings, it’s just for one reason or another they weren’t included in the starting line-up.

Some key people at Parkhead need to come out and accept blame.

Chief Executive Peter Lawwell might be a magician when it comes spreadsheets and bank balances but in the the transfer market Celtic lack ambition, and have done since Brendan Rodgers first season at the club in 2016.

On the football side of things Celtic lack a longterm first-team strategy. It’s all about bringing players to the fore and then selling them on for a healthy profit. Surely there has to be more ambition than that at Parkhead.

Personally I think Lawwell had his ‘moonbeam’ moment after the Scottish Cup final in May when he hurriedly announced that the club were keeping interim boss Neil Lennon on a full-time basis. It then emerged that Lennon was offered the managerial hotseat in the Hampden showers. It was such a bizarre announcement and one that wouldn’t be confirmed for a further few weeks.

In essence Lawwell returned to type after having maverick boss Brendan Rodgers in charge. Rodgers was a demanding manager and a boss that wanted Celtic to improve year on year and that meant competing on the European stage. To do that the club need to reinvest heavily and that’s clearly not Peter’s style, especially when you can spend millions on a new lighting system for (ironically) big European nights.

Another problem that arrives with Celtic failing to reach the Champions League group stages is that it impacts on their transfer policy. Not having the glamour European nights makes the club a less attractive prospect for potential signings. Plus The Hoops will also struggle to get premium fees for their talent. Moussa Dembele and Kieran Tierney didn’t receive huge transfers because of their domestic exploits, it was partly because they had proven themselves in UEFA’s top competitions.

I doubt Lawwell made any real attempts to convince Brendan to stay once Leicester City approached the Hoops gaffer. I think the Celtic Chief Exec was happy to go back to the norm.

The norm under Lawwell is to get in a manager that will appreciate the money tight ways of the football club and ultimately be a yes man.

In that regard he brought back Neil Lennon.

Now Lennon left during his first stint as Celtic boss due to him wanting the club to spend more money as he wanted to challenge more in Europe. But things have changed for Neil since 2014.

He had two unspectacular jobs at Bolton Wanderers and Hibs. His failures to succeed in those roles meant that he was now going to struggle to get a reputable job, then suddenly the Celtic one landed at his feet.

Lawwell knows that Lennon can bring league titles and he also now knows that his manager is just happy to be given a second chance and that means he probably won’t rock the boat.

The issue now is that Neil Lennon isn’t the greatest tactician or in fact coach, which he proved last night against Cluj.

When Celtic were trailing the tie at halftime, Neil didn’t make a tactical change to revitalise his pool of players and spark anything from the crowd. He just hoped that something would happen.

When they got into the lead as a team they couldn’t close the game out with just fourteen minutes to go in front of their own support. Worse still they’d go on to lose that match!

Lennon and his staff should’ve been calming things down and sending on defensive players that can help see out the result.

I also don’t get Lennon’s preference of Scott Bain over Craig Gordon in goals. I get why Brendan Rodgers would select Bain as he’s better with the ball at his feet but Neil just wants a shot-stopper and I think the experienced Gordon is better at keeping the ball out of the net in big games. I bet most Celtic fans would want a new number one.

Celtic spent around £11.7m on defensive recruits this summer. Yet out of the three new signings only right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed started, with £7m centre-back Christopher Jullien and left-back Boli Bolingoli on the bench.

£7m is the most the Glasgow giants have paid for a defender, yet the twenty-six year old Jullien still doesn’t seem to be up to speed even though he was signed in early July. If he’s fully fit then he should be in the team for the biggest game of the season so far!

Instead of using the £3m Boli, Lennon selected midfielder Callum McGregor as his left sided fullback. McGregor is a top player and he’ll always give 100% for the jersey but he’s the team’s most reliable midfielder and a goalscoring threat in Celtic’s biggest games. Ironically Bolingoli was dropped after giving his best performance on Saturday since he’s arrived in Scotland.

Lennon explained beforehand why he chose to make the change to his team:

 “I just wanted to get Ntcham into the team.”

“The more technicians in the team, the better.”

“There’s going to be an adaptation period I’m sure.”

Via The Scottish Sun

At least the Celtic manager is being honest here, it was clear that he wanted to shoehorn Ryan Christie, Scott Brown, Olivier Ntcham and McGregor into the same line-up. The issue is that McGregor isn’t a good enough makeshift left-back and won’t give the team the same impact as he would from midfield and the side then becomes unbalanced.

Lennon has to be more ruthless in that situation and drop a player, probably the club captain in this case.

That leads me nicely onto captain Brown.

Clearly the player is passionate and loyal. He’s given everything he has to Celtic but at times you need to realise when a player needs to be eased out. That time could be now for Scott at Celtic.

That doesn’t mean bombing him out the team completely but if the team’s playing well and a lot of that is down to Ntcham, Christie and McGregor then you should go with the younger players.

Even though Scott Brown’s the most experienced player in the team, it was he who would inexplicably handle the ball inside his own box on seventy-fourth minute that allowed Cluj back into the game. That proved to be a very costly error.

Now i’m not putting all the blame onto Brown but personally I’d have selected the three in-form midfielders, the ones with more running in them. Then brought on the captain to get the game over the line.

Silly mistakes from top to bottom at the football club repeatedly hamper Celtic’s progress.

Yes they might win a ninth league title in a row come May, hell they might even win their fourth treble in a row by next summer but ultimately that isn’t progression that’s what’s expected.

For Celtic to improve then they need to gamble more and build a long-term strategy that would hopefully see an exciting brand of football on the park and get them back into the Champions League group stages.

Are Messrs Lawwell, Lennon and Brown the men to do it?

I really don’t think so!

One Response to “Celtic’s Deep Rooted Problems – The Chief Executive, The Manager & The Captain”

  1. 100% correct

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