The Failure Files 001 – Lenny

Ask a chairman to sum up his dream manager and I would expect the answer to be a young popular ex player who has shown  tactical nous .

Imagine such a person just waiting around to be called when needed , answering the call , doing well , and getting flung under the bus. No need to imagine , we all watched it.


Lenny arrived through one of the strangest processes I have ever seen . It seemed he was taken on a roadshow . I dont know why , perhaps it was to gauge his acceptance levels within the support but to me at least he was there , ready willing and able , and deserved a shot at the job . Seemingly the crowd at the roadshows agreed and he was consequently given the job. I have never heard of another manager been given such a “ job interview “ before or since , and Im not really sure what would have happened should Lenny have only received mixed backing .

But anyway , Lenny was given the hot seat and thats a fact.


The first thing he done was to set up his management team . I do have some issues here to be honest . If I were the Chairman or Ceo at the time I would have looked at the situation like this ,,,,

My young inexperienced manager wants his second and third to be,,,young inexperienced coaches so wheres the experience ?   I woulda insisted on some age and wisdom and told the crowds on the roadshows that it was a prerequisite of Lenny taking the job and it was in everybodies best interest . And it would have been, right ? I personally thought it was folly how he made up his crew but hey they were his decisions to make and live or die by.

Dolph agreed straight away and Alan was not going to miss out on a get together was he ?


One of the very first things he did was bring “ Chazza “ home .

I will state clearly for the record he should still be there now and I have no doubt would have made a position his own under Brendan . One gets the feeling even as a squad player Charlie would be happy . He could be appearing in the EPL next year and I for one believe he would deserve it. He would prove himself , in  the center of defence usually although he was playing left back when he joined , to be a no frills throwback with a good delivery also . Was an astute signing by our Neil and a good start I may say.


When looking at Lennys first year  at the helm one of the first things that strikes me is the quality of his signings .  Gary Hooper, Beram Kayal and Emilio Izaguirre,, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley, and Daniel Majstorović all went into the first team. In addition to these Lennon also signed five other players, including Fraser Forster on loan from Newcastle who became first choice goalkeeper and helped set a new SPL record for most clean sheets.

This shows a vital characteristic needed in management , the ability to spot a player. A huge tick mark beside his name . Only a point separated him from Walters charges that season although his record against them was very good ,. Out of 7 meetings that season he only lost 2 . Aberdeen were beaten 21 – 1 on aggregate over 5 meetings which suggests our new gaffer had some substance .  Results such as these lead to the song which I consider Lennys ,,, Just Cant Get Enough .

His second season again seen some fantastic signings made notably Wanyama , Wilson and Lustig signing on . This coupled with a 15 point deficit clawed back to take the title beating Super Ally  and thus we seen further signs that we had something special here. However at the seasons end Thommo would mysteriously depart . There were rumours it was against Neils wishes and it came from above.


Lennys third season would prove his pinnacle. Neil delivered a double , only the third man to do so as a player and manager , plus one of the clubs most memorable evenings in defeating the mighty Barcelona who were generally recognised as the best team in the world at that stage . Celtic emerged from the group stage to take a spot in the last 16 of the competition.


Now , if I can stop here for a moment . We know how this story ends but if you grabbed someone who didnt and told him those brief facts and asked what happens next , I think few if any would guess correct . Big club swooped would probably be the top answer in any poll .

I still find it hard to believe what happened after the 3 seasons above . It simply must be filed under failure in my book .


Neils fourth and last season started strangely with very few incomings and a raft of outgoings which included some of his star players . The bigger names to depart were Wanyama , Wilson , and Hooper . He received a mixed bag of incoming talent the stand out being Virgil but suddenly a lot of quality was leaving and a lot of their replacements did not seem near their level .

Despite the first two years of transfers looking very good and increasing in value for some reason in year 3 and 4 we seen that course change. Quantity over quality seemed the order of the day with names such as Bangura , Lassad , Borrieghter , Balde , Gershon , Mouyokolo .

Europe and the cups were both dismal and the league was wrapped up no worries with an unbeaten run that lasted until February .

At the seasons end however a series of events seems to have lead to Lenny walking .

First Dolph walked away saying he wanted a change . Then the popular Samaras was allowed , against the gaffers wishes ,  to depart on a free transfer despite the fact he desperately wanted to stay and out of respect had not held any discussions with other clubs as was his right in the hope of staying . I personally am convinced this was the straw that broke the camel’s back , strategically placed by the way . Another of his favourite servants Ledley departed. Virgil and Foster were rumoured to be going also .

After a meeting to discuss transfers and budgets he announced he was leaving , despite the fact the week before he had stated he couldnt wait for the season to begin .

It does not take a genius to figure out he walked as he did not like what he was told at that meeting.


So to summarise a very popular young manager who was on an extremely upward career path and who could not wait to continue got meddled with on and off the park until he left .

The person who meddled is still there believe it or not .


Now I will admit that I take this one personally . How can any of us not ?

Lenny in his own words “ I have supported Celtic all my life “ was clearly one of us .

He was a focal point and was there when we needed him and look what he got for it . . Would Henrik have been treated the same ? Keano ?

Where was all the outrage when this happened ? The blogs were up in arms calling for heads at one of our own getting treated like that right ? Why not ? Sad fact is Peter is still there dong the same to a different Ulsterman right now can you believe .

All of the above is just one  reason why I want nothing to do with the Glasgow branch at the minute . Should the board ever wise up and back instead of antagonise its own that could change . The above is also another reason why I wish Belfast Celtic to grow .

Neil , you have nothing but respect from this man thats for sure .

We Just Couldnt Get Enough !


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October 3, 2018 6:29 am

Wow,stunning bit of writing,Mahe. Couldn’t agree more about how Neil Lennon had the feet cut from underneath him.

Story goes that near the end of his first season,NL asked why Broonie wasn’t being offered a new contract. He was informed that his wages could not be justified,and he would be allowed to leave on a Bosman. Neil immediately called DD and informed him of the situation,the outcome being a new contract offered.

As far as I know,Joe Ledley simply asked for a contract on the same terms as before,which as a free agent,included the same signing on fee too. He was offered the contract but without the signing on fee. Ditto Samaras,who at the time was at the top of his game for us. Revenge is a dish best served cold,right enough.

As for Thommo,a kick up the arse and a talking to about his “mid-life crisis”-he was only missing the motorbike!-would have been sufficient.

The Exiled Tim
October 3, 2018 8:19 am

Can’t disagree with a word of that Mahe.
Laters, things to do.

,big packy
October 3, 2018 8:51 am

great post mahe. if Brendan did leave, lenny would be my first choice not davie moyes, .hh.hope you are well.

October 3, 2018 10:13 am

Brendan has said on numerous occasions that he knows that Celtic must operate within the financial constraints of Scottish football, WGS knew this, Lenny knew this and Ronny knew this….in fact we all know it. Those constraints mean not getting everything you want all the time.

The club must always plan for the future, off the field as well as on it – surely this is a no-brainer to all who call Celtic their passion.

“We don’t care if we win, lose or draw”, but we would care if the club was put in financial jeopardy. The Whites & the Kellys took Celtic to the brink and but for John Keene and Fergus McCann, God knows what would have happened, or where we would be now.

No one has been thrown under a bus – managers and players can come and go, but the custodians of the club have to safeguard the entirety of the club and ensure the long-term future.

Our current custodians have overseen (I know I am repeating myself) the second most successfull footballing period in our 130 year old history. They have made us the most financially successful club in the history of Scottish football – what more do some folk want?

In the coming years the structure of club football in Europe will change – we have to be ready for this and be strong enough to have some influence over it, and to participate in it.

I love what Brendan has done on the field – he has achieved back to back trebles with basically Ronny’s team. I remember that during Ronny’s tenure the CEO and the board were also ‘getting stick’ over our quality of players.

saltires en sevilla
October 3, 2018 10:17 am

Nailed it Mahe

Lenny brought the Thunder back ..and how.

Clearly undermined by the very guys who should be backing him.

He still won the league and had the energy and skills to build a team for 4 in a row.

Legs ca’d from under him.

There is a pattern here…

Reply to  Gold
October 3, 2018 11:29 am


We have net cash at bank of £60m,with the money from Moussa still to come.

Despite that,Brendan didn’t get his targets. We lost out on our CL bonanza.

Under Neil,we squandered tens of millions on bad signings. And lost out on our CL bonanza.

That’s not risk-averse,that’s not financial prudence. It’s rank incompetence.

Keep ’em coming,though-and I’m not being facetious! It would be damn boring if we all agreed!!!


Rolling Stone
Reply to  Gold
October 3, 2018 12:16 pm

@ Gold,

The fact we ply our trade in Scotland is not a catch all excuse that can be applied to a poor transfer window to protect those who have unperformed. We have had three good managers in recent memory who have all recognised that they were being undersold by the executives.

You make reference to financial jeopardy. It’s a straw man argument. There is a possibility that any company could be liquidated; however it is the probability of such an event that is relevant. For Celtic it is not probable at all (although the ghost of Rangers past is wheeled out to support this premise). We must be the only company in the world to make record revenue, profit and have over £60m in the bank (post Dembele sale) and still have individuals talking about solvency concerns.

Managers and players come and go…but not directors? I seem to remember a time before Lawwell and I’m sure there will be a time after him as well. You talk about long term future but this summer’s dealing has jeopardised that future, unless long term future solely relates to not being liquidated.

“Our current custodians have overseen (I know I am repeating myself) the second most successfull footballing period in our 130 year old history.”

On account of Brendan’s brilliance. They have not changed the manner in which the club is run from Ronny’s days. You are failing to see the cause of our success. If it is Lawwell et al, then why was Ronny’s reign so unsuccessful? We made a loss in Ronny’s first year and just made a profit in his second. Were our custodians doing a stellar job at that time?

The last two years have been excellent, but they were not the product of a well-thought out and executed plan coming to fruition. They were brought about by crisis and were reactionary: 30k at Celtic park, out of both cups, losing to Sevco at first asking and finishing bottom of the Europa League group.

Were we an exemplary run club during that period?

Reply to  Rolling Stone
October 3, 2018 12:54 pm

No, not “a catch all excuse”, but it is a clear & present reality.

We have never had £60 million in our account – fact.

With the acquisition of Eduard & Morgan plus the loan signing of £13m Benkovic and Arzanni, and the return of Izaguirre, we were looking at a stronger squad for this season – Dembele’s last minute strop changed this – nothing at that late stage we could do about it.

The squad is bloated especially in the midfield area – McGinn would not have been a automatic starter, just like Rogic, Sinclair, McGregor, Forrest, Biton, Morgan, Malumbu & Christie are not always guaranteed a start. He wanted to sign for Aston Villa – good luck to him.

Brendan has a list of ‘buys’, e.g. Kouassi, Compper, Hayes, Gambao, Dr Vries and Benyu, who are clearly surplus to requirements – these players must be moved on.

We will sign a new striker in January, I’m sure of this, perhaps a right-back and possibly a centre-back, if Boyatta is determined to leave – who knows we may be able to buy Paddy Roberts because we have the money.

Running Celtic as successfully as it has been over the past eight years is a complex business – off the cuff simplistic solutions just do not cut it – we are lucky to have DD, PL and the board we have – they are Celtic-minded, Celtic supporters and by any measure doing a first-class job.

Reply to  Gold
October 3, 2018 1:15 pm


The accounts to end of June state it quite clearly.

Net cash at bank,£60m.

I can’t see why you would choose to deny that while telling us what a great job the board are doing with the financials-it surely supports your point of view.

cosy corner bhoy
October 3, 2018 1:20 pm

An observation only, but , I always think that in management or business 15 years in the same position leads to ‘comfortable’ thinking and no new ideas.
Perhaps a move up or sideways or non-executive chairman.
The facts in the article were facts,the conclusions were the writer’s….it is ever thus.cosy

Rolling Stone
Reply to  Gold
October 3, 2018 1:23 pm

We play in Scotland but we are not comparable to other teams in Scotland. It’s a lazy argument as to why we cannot buy or improve.

We have never had £60 million in our account – fact. Sure, we have had £20/30m before. After a point the number becomes irrelevant.

The stronger squad claim: Benkovic helps (although a short term opition, exacerbated by the potential departure of Boyata in January), Izzi provides cover for KT. But midfield to front we are not stronger. We have lost Armstrong, Roberts and Dembele. Edouard was here last year so not a fresh face and Morgan and Arzani are youth player untested at any sort of level. There is also next to no output on any of those players apart from Edouard.

As for players being surplus to requirements. I agree. However, % wages to turnover is down this year from last and lower under Brendan than Ronny and all but one of Lennon’s years I believe.

You completely blank the majority of my points as there is no retort. We appear well run because of what Brendan has achieved for this club. He is making the others look good.

A well run club would push on from a position of strength, not weaken itself.

Reply to  cosy corner bhoy
October 3, 2018 1:38 pm

Welcome to the site,COSYCORNERBHOY

Took you a while,mind. And bang on the button,as ever.

Reply to  cosy corner bhoy
October 3, 2018 1:47 pm

CCB, thanks for stopping by and you’re more than welcome anytime. Hail Hail

Reply to  saltires en sevilla
October 3, 2018 1:55 pm

SES,,,Thank you Sir ! He’s one of our own, a shame he was treated badly. We need to start coming up with ideas on how to get rid of you know who.
Hail Hail and hope all well.

Reply to  majoc
October 3, 2018 1:56 pm

You must be looking at different accounts.

Reply to  Rolling Stone
October 3, 2018 2:12 pm

I didn’t purposely blank any points – I tried to give an answer covering all – we don’t agree and I respect your views. Possibly if we hadn’t done the Musonda deal, we would have more money to throw at McGinn.

Remember that two year’s CL money was spent on football wages (£59m) last season.

It’s all cash flow – what comes in will go out again, otherwise we would be sitting on £100m over the last eight years – sometimes we make a profit, sometimes a loss, but with good stewardship the club gets stronger.

Look at the money PSG spent last season…and they got one round further than us in the CL.

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  cosy corner bhoy
October 3, 2018 2:27 pm

I agree that he has been too long in the job, I disagree that moving him up or sideways is the answer, he thinks he is Mr Celtic, having him hovering over a new CEO will never work, a clean break will be better all round imo.
There are CEO’s out there who would do as good a job for a heluva lot less, the business world is full of them, those who seem to think he is irreplaceable really need to remove their head from his jacksie.

Rolling Stone
Reply to  Gold
October 3, 2018 2:53 pm


I’m not sure how you are arriving at these conclusion. We had circa £42m in the bank gross (before Dembele) but not enough money to buy McGinn because we loaned a player from Chelsea for 4 months?

Rodgers had a net spend of zero this last financial year (before Dembele left). What was his transfer budget for the summer?

Two years champions league football wasn’t spent on wages. The club has a revenue stream and expenditure. The club’s revenue (which includes CL money) goes towards expenditure. The last two years have returned both record profits and revenue for the club. As pointed out, as a percentage wages to revenue has decreased under Brendan compared to Ronny and for the most part, Lenny. Also the £59m is for the company’s total expenditure on staff (all 500+ of them).

“sometimes we make a profit, sometimes a loss, but with good stewardship the club gets stronger.” You act as if it is an act of god and random. We have made profit and the team is strong. Why we are weakening the team now and, on the face of it, downsizing, is beyond me.

“Look at the money PSG spent last season…and they got one round further than us in the CL.”

You are right, £60m in the bank is better at promoting the success of Celtic.

October 3, 2018 3:27 pm

Excellent article both in terms of content and writing style….a joy to read.

I hesitate to critique Lenny because, as you say, he delivered big time during his tenure. More disgraceful, he had to endure prejudice, hate directed at him and his family. Throughout all of this, he was copying with a mental illness that can take a person’ confidence and energy. He has gone public with this and that is one further mark of an exceptional man.

However, your article did not capture the fact that his team was producing boring football in his last year…the thunder had gone. In fairness, one could say the same about the football in MON’s last year! IMHO, this suggests that their is a time limit on the effect that a manager can have on a club like Celtic. Whether this is due to the rigours of the job, or to interference by the CEO is anyone’s guess.

I agree with an earlier point that CEO’s have a shelf life as well, just as managers do. Complacency sets in at the CEO level as well. We see this in terms of increasing risk aversion(lack of speculation to accumulate), and a lazy negotiation style(a drawn out process to secure the optimal price rather than a satisficing one).

Personally, I feel that it would be a mistake for both parties, if Lenny came back.


Reply to  Rebus67
October 3, 2018 3:39 pm

Hi Rebus ,, welcome and thank you for your excellent comment. Please keep em coming.
I put Lenny last year down to selling his best and giving him sh%#e. He did also I believe. Hooper to Pukki was a big drop off for instance.
Even in a bad season delivered the title, let’s see if the Carnlough man does the same.
Hope you’re well. Hail Hail

Margaret McGill
October 3, 2018 4:21 pm

The sad truth is that all corporations are dictatorships.
The fact that Lawwell is milking bigotry at the expense of Celtic legends as a CEO under the umbrella of complete corrupt Scottish football should surprise no one. His motivations are clear. Money for himself.
My surprise is the number of Celtic supporting fannies who perceive Celtic as some kind of Holy Trinity where no aspect of the club can be criticized. To the point where the glorious balance sheet is interpreted as a victory over hunnery in this Scottish corruption disgrace when actually its just another symptom of it.

Margaret McGill
October 3, 2018 4:45 pm

In my opinion, as this farce continues, Celtic will be out of Europe by Christmas and Brendan will be the next manager of Manchester Utd. The Tim-hun business continuity plan will continue for the foreseeable future.

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  Margaret McGill
October 3, 2018 5:07 pm

That’s you mocking the three legged milking stool comparison again, shocking stuff 🙂
Nah, he won’t be going to Utd, that’s reserved for Zidane, the smsm will try their damnest to link him to Villa, telling us all they are a sleeping giant and BR will be the perfect fit, they are still terrified of him and what he may do.

Margaret McGill
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
October 3, 2018 6:21 pm

Seems there’s a lot of emotional cabbage down at Villa.

,big packy
Reply to  Margaret McGill
October 3, 2018 7:14 pm

judging by the new kick off times for the semis, looks like we have been shafted again.hh.

Margaret McGill
Reply to  ,big packy
October 3, 2018 8:12 pm

Shockerooni! Stands back in amazement.
“Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell was excused from the SPFL board meeting due to the subject under discussion”. Well at least the SPFL cannot be blamed for tabling motions for 5 years.

,big packy
Reply to  Margaret McGill
October 3, 2018 8:26 pm

mags, when will it ever change, move along timmy nothing to see here.hh.

Reply to  Rolling Stone
October 3, 2018 9:11 pm

£59 million was spent on football wages – check the accounts. That’s 59% of turnover – target is maximum 55%.

Of course all revenue is used to allocate to expenditure – but £59 million is equivalent to two years CL money.

The financial parameters will have been explained to Brendan prior to him taking the job – since joining he has stated on at least two occasions that he appreciates & understands the financial constraints that apply to running the club.

I contend that spending £59 million on wages is backing the manager – transfers must be judged on their own merits and fit the profile at the time.

If the club has a first-team pool of 33 professionals where at least ten are obviously misfits and surplus to requirements whilst drawing substantial wages- it would be remiss of the CEO to blindly sanction additions without others going out the door – that is reality, that is why Celtic is the top club in Scotland and will continue to be so.

Football is business – without a good business model, there will be no football club – surely the McCann intervention and the Ibrox farce confirms this.

The Exiled Tim
October 3, 2018 9:13 pm

So there we have it, a statement that means feck all, where were the statements when they were robbing us, stealing our trophies, stealing our money, in the ludge with their OF brethern by the looks of it, scunnered.

,big packy
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
October 3, 2018 9:29 pm

the exiled tim,, feel the same. feckinscunnered.hh.

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  ,big packy
October 3, 2018 9:37 pm

If the club were sincere fine, all the statement is an sordid attempt to pacify the unrest within the support, where were they when we really need leadership, nowhere, conspiring to milk the support even more, as I said scunnered.

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
October 3, 2018 9:40 pm

If we lose the morra, which is looking on the cards, the support will be a tad more unforgiving, I bet the suits are praying to their idols, ” ££££££$$$$$$$$ ” that we get some sort of result.

,big packy
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
October 3, 2018 9:50 pm

the exiled tim,cant see us getting anything tomorrow unfortunately, but we still have all that money in the bank.hh.

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  ,big packy
October 3, 2018 9:53 pm

Maybe if we play the balance sheet instead of the players we will win everything

Rolling Stone
Reply to  Gold
October 3, 2018 9:54 pm


I’m afraid you are wrong in relation to the wages. Read the “Chief Executives Review” section of the full announcement from Celtic. To quote:

“Total labour costs in 2018 increased by £7.1m, from £52.2m in 2017 to £59.3m (14%), largely due to increases in the
football department.”

The previous year’s accounts also corroborate that the figure relates to total labour costs and not solely footballing.

Target is 55%? That’s conjecture, unless you are in the know? As stated before, % wages to revenue are down this year from last; are lower than any point under Ronny; and lower bar one year (i believe) under Lennon. So there is no argument that wages are out of control.

Financial constraints apply to all clubs. Managers will be aware of that. But it is a question of degrees and it’s a legitimate question to ask whether we are being too conservative. Furthermore, on account of Brendan’s ability and the results he has brought, the financial constraints have changed significantly over his tenure.

I contend that having a net spend of zero is not backing the manager. And, as above, when wages fall to turnover year on year (as they have done so far), it doesn’t really constitute backing.

You are truly focussing on one figure: wages, to fit your agenda. Even though they should be considered in relative and not absolute terms. Why not focus of the profit figure? The revenue figure? The cash at bank figure?

Even with a squad of 33 wages to revenue still fell and we achieved the double treble. Added to that, around 10 players are out of contract next year, so any potential issue will be suppressed shortly.

Re McCann and Oldco. It’s not binary; it’s not Celtic either act as Oldco did or the old board or we act as we are doing now. There are shades of grey and positions inbetween. We have not pushed on from last year, Brendan has said has much. We have failed (inexplicably) to strengthen from a position of strength (and not for the first time under the tenure of our incumbent CEO).

,big packy
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
October 3, 2018 10:01 pm

the exiled tim,.feel your pain pal.feck the lot of them.hh..

Por Cierto
Reply to  ,big packy
October 3, 2018 10:34 pm

The Exiled Tim is ,big packy in your cave por cierto :)))

Margaret McGill
October 3, 2018 11:36 pm

Awe Naw no Auldheid hud enuff anaw noo

Margaret McGill
October 3, 2018 11:37 pm

where’s that windbag BRTH when you need him?

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  Por Cierto
October 3, 2018 11:51 pm

Por Cierto
Delighted you have deemed us worthy of posting, please make it a regular thing mi amigo, you are more than welcome.
I think Big Packy has enough on his plate in Cheshire without coming to cave land 🙂

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  Margaret McGill
October 4, 2018 12:10 am

Aye, it seems like his patience is wearing thin, still canny bring himself to tell the world of his true feelings, one day.

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  Margaret McGill
October 4, 2018 12:16 am

I always had a three strikes and yer a gonner rule when posting, I replied to posters and if they didn’t deem me worthy of a reply, I gave them three goes, yer man Brogan did reply once, for some unknown reason I gave him heaps more chance than three, what a fecking tosser I was, the man is so far up his own arse it’s unreal, yet he is fawned over, I’m sure this will get back to him, some people just canny help themselvs, looking forward to his response…not.

The Exiled Tim
October 4, 2018 12:25 am

Sleep well Timland
HH and KTF

October 4, 2018 5:45 am

New article up.