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 !