Monday, 6 May 2013

Is Lennon immune from criticism

Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Ross County in Dingwall confirmed Celtic will finish this season with fewer points than Tony Mowbray’s side did in 2009/10.

That being the case, should Lennon and his side face any sort of criticism, despite winning the league with four games remaining?

It has been well-documented this season that Celtic have been far from their best in numerous games in the SPL. But some fans still seem to be wrapping Lennon and his side in cotton wool, defending them from any sort of criticism.

“We’ve won the league, it doesn’t matter what the results are from now on.” I have read this on Twitter and other sites numerous times.

I’m sure the fans who are paying their hard-earned cash to travel to support Celtic will certainly disagree. If Lennon knows his side aren't going to perform to an acceptable standard, why can’t he let the fans know prior to kick-off to save them money?

If Lennon wasn’t a ‘Celtic man’, for example Gordon Strachan, then there would be a lynch mob outside Celtic Park calling for him to quit.

The Champions League run was fantastic and we, in every sense of the word, over-achieved. That for me, however, does not excuse the fact that Celtic have been woeful this season domestically. The public wooing of Lennon is tiresome and needs to stop. He is a good manager, yes, but why can’t he motivate his side when it comes to league duties? It doesn't help when he’s in the stand most weeks mind you.

I can imagine people reading this and angrily cursing at me, “We won the league, what more do you want, you closet hun?!”

Well, here’s a little perspective and a breakdown of how we have performed this season. I won’t bore you by talking excessively about the omission of Rangers from this year’s top flight, but it’s a relevant point. Had a full-strength living Rangers been competing this year, they would have mopped the floor with us. It’s not relevant to say, “Oh, but we would have raised the bar if Rangers were here.” That’s a nonsense thing to say. Fans are paying money expecting this side to give their best. It isn’t just a one-off game. We are consistently under-performing.

Anyway, I digress - our league form.

Away from home this season, we have won eight games out of 18. Motherwell have won nine.

Has it led to vociferous protests against Lennon and the team? No, it hasn’t. Some fans are blindfolded due to our Champions League run and the omission of our former rivals.

After the draw in Dingwall, we have now gone six SPL away matches without a win - our worst run in the league since going 10 away games without a victory in 1994/95. That is a shocking and embarrassing stat, which must be addressed.

Winning eight out of 18 games away surely merits some form of criticism? Stats such as these justify why none of our players were nominated for Player of the Year. I would make a case for Commons, but a weak one at that.

In Tony Mowbray’s “disaster” season, the “worst one ever”, we ended up with a total of 81 points – we now cannot reach that tally for this season.

Even today (6-5-13) Neil Lennon has taken to his Twitter account to defend his team. Is the pure denial? Here are some of his quotes that stood out for me.

“I didn’t see anything wrong with the attitude yesterday” – He must be the only one.

“We have a cup final so season is not fizzling out. And the league was won a fortnight ago” – Is this an excuse for the players to under-perform? I hope not…

“Am (sic) using the whole squad..the edge isn’t there at min (sic)as league is already won” – Don’t tell me he is starting to believe the nonsense that he is reading on his timeline. The players have the obligation to go out and perform until the final day. We are spending money to support them, the very least they could do is put a bit of effort in.

I’m far from a “Lennon out!” man. I admire Lennon as a man and a manager for everything he has went through in Scotland, but I’m pretty fed up of being slated every time I wish to question anything he does.

Another cause for concern is that if this inconsistency continues, supporters will postpone renewing their season tickets. Why should we spend our money when we’re turning up watching half-hearted performances every week? 

Winning the league is great, but we are also paying to be entertained throughout the season.

Attendances (oh no, not this again…) are important to the club and have been terrible this year. If that is to improve, a bit part of that is down to the players. If they can perform to a high enough standard, then attendances will get better.

Bottom line, I wrote this article, as I do with every article, to find out what the fans think. Should Lennon face any sort of criticism for this year’s domestic performance, or is winning the league purely enough?

Twitter: @Kieran_Psyl 

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