Celtic board must do right by removing Neil Lennon - but parallel is Mourinho not Mowbray

There were some of us who believed that, even as we arrived at the conclusion in November Neil Lennon ought to have been removed from post, the Celtic board deserved a certain admiration in not then serving him up to the mob.

Neil Lennon has been buried as Celtic manager by a blizzard of bad outcomes. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Neil Lennon has been buried as Celtic manager by a blizzard of bad outcomes. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

That position has flipped. Any failure now to act would represent shameful weakness, a dereliction of their duty of care to a Lennon left hanging like a pinata, to be repeatedly battered from all sides. Celtic have become rudderless on and off the pitch. As all matters both Dubai and defensively have demonstrated, across the board their instincts for making the correct judgement calls have utterly deserted them.

There may be all sorts of mitigating factors wrapped up in Lennon’s inability to draw from his players winning performances, to leave the club on a four-game winless sequence in the league representing their longest such sequence in two decades. Never mind that Rangers are a dot in the Premiership distance in holding a 20-point lead in a title race that at no point during the past four months has even resembled one. Yet, none of that changes the fact that, while it is entirely understandable for him to refuse to resign, it would be inexcusable and inexplicable were the board to further delay doing the right thing to spare him any more cruel beatings.

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All that said, some of the Lennon-lashers really need to take a look at themselves over their preposterous denigration of one of Celtic’s most extraordinarily successful servants. A man whose win rate is second only to Martin O’Neill’s, has 21 honours as player and manager, and is the one figure in the Scottish game to win a treble in both those roles.

Tony Mowbray can't bear to look during the 4-0 defeat to St Mirren that cost him the Celtic job and provided him a desperate record that has no comparison with what has befallen Neil Lennon this term. (Photo by Steve Welsh/SNS Group)

There has been all sorts of nonsense talked from some of these sneering Celtic seers that from the moment he was reappointed permanently for a second time in July 2019 they knew the club’s crazed-over 10-in-a-row bid would end in such fashion. Yes, they will be able to produce the tweets and blogs telling us that their crystal balls told them in his first full season he would string together the third best 22-game league run across the nine-in-a-row era and become the first Celtic manager to win a European group - courtesy of the club’s first win on Italian soil - before it would magically all turn to dust the next season. We will wait a long time for those screen grabs.

Moreover, the specious attempts to draw parallels between Lennon this season and the tenures of Tony Mowbray and Ronny Deila are nothing short of pathetic. Mowbray lost seven and drew seven league games - going down to a 4-0 loss against a St Mirren that hadn’t won any of their previous 10 games - as his ill-fated eight month tenure ended in the February of the 2009-10 season. Lennon, who has bagged five of the past six domestic trophies, has lost two league games, with the two of his seven draws coming in the past week against a Livingston team on the longest domestic unbeaten run of any Scottish top-flight side. Furthermore, that Mowbray was only 10 points behind a Rangers that had played two games more when he was removed from position is down to the fact the Ibrox men had dropped four-times more points than they have this season.

The Deila parallel is utterly bogus too. In his second season, the Norwegian was allowed to resign diplomatically after losing a Scottish Cup semi-final to a Championship Rangers on the back of a grim struggle to shake off the title challenge of an Aberdeen then operating with an eighth of his budget. Steven Gerrard’s playing spend is currently 27 per cent shy of that of Lennon.

If you want a legitimate comparison, the Celtic manager is in Jose Mourinho territory. The Portuguese coach’s second spell at Chelsea, where he had been hugely successful the first time around, brought a title triumph in his first full season of 2014-15. Then, rapidly and unexpectedly, the Stamford Bridge side imploded, and he had to give way by the Christmas. His removal was warranted, as is true of Lennon now. However, unlike so many muddle-minded and, frankly, blinkered Celtic followers, Chelsea supporters still were able to recognise the outgoing man was a coach whose wiles and accomplishments deserved appreciation. Lennon is no Mourinho - no-one including himself would ever make that claim - but he is a more than capable coach. Just not capable of turning around a team lost and lacking in so many respects. It happens. Ask Jose.

Jose Mourinho's second spell at Chelsea disintegrated in similar fashion to how Neil Lennon's second stint as Celtic manager has unravelled. (Photo by Bill Murray/SNS Group)

The stats that leave indellible stains on Celtic’s season

The current four-game winless run in the league is their longest such sequence since April 2000.

Their five straight games without a win across November-December was their longest such sequence since 1997.

Their five consecutive home encounters without a win during that period was their longest such run since 1957-58, when they failed to secure a victory across eight straight games in their own environs.In their disastrous Europa League group campaign, the 19 goals conceded was the most by any club across the entire sectional phase, Dundalk and Ludogorets Razgrad sharing this unwanted honour. It should be noted, though, that Celtic still claimed four points, while these fellow last placers were beaten in all six of their group encounters.The Champions League second round qualifying defeat against Ferencvaros made for their earliest exit from that phase of the competition since 2005.The home League Cup exit to Ross County in November not only brought to an end their record run of 34 straight domestic cup-tie successes. It made for their first home cup defeat since a 2014 Scottish Cup loss to Aberdeen.

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