The King is dead, long live the King !
He’s a lifelong fan of the club and always will be. After making the transition from stands to player he left it all on the field, a natural leader who never knew fear or if he did it never showed.
He gave the best years of his career to his beloved Glasgow Celtic, and once the boots were hung up like a true Tim he gravitated back to his one true love in a coaching capacity only to reach the very top position.
With that, his name joined a very small list of those true Tim’s who have done it all,, supporter, player, and manager.
Well done John Kennedy on getting what must be your dream job and best of luck Sir.
Spookily, the above also holds true for the man he will replace, who couldn’t turn down the job for obvious reasons but ended up overstaying his welcome. Part of me is glad the support didn’t play much involvement with this parting by way of huge protests. Yes there were two small gatherings, but apart from handbags at the barrier and a few hastily scrolled banners, the support have more or less been innocent bystanders in Neil’s implosion.
This makes me very happy. The claim of bloodlust just doesn’t stand up when he was clearly given much more time at the helm than others who hadnt delivered such a poor points return. It’s clear he had extra time in the dugout, I mean this is almost March, we haven’t best a top 6 team since late September and we find ourselves in a fight for third at current pace. The parting was well earned, and well overdue, and I posit if there’s any parties can walk away here with a modicum of respect it’s the support who didn’t rebel but watched the car crash wondering when, instead of giving into bloodlust, thank you.
Another (spooky) fact that ties the two Tim’s mentioned above is that they are both unfulfilled potential in my (maybe many) eyes. One on the pitch, the other off it. John had the potential to go all the way, and now has a fantastic stage to showcase his management abilities. Neil fulfilled his playing potential, but the man once dubbed ‘one of Britain’s brightest young managers’ never kicked on after looking to have managerial qualities.
In his very first stint in management he took the scalp of the mighty Barcelona delivering an iconic night for the club, but both the necessary mentality and structure was not in place for him to move up a level. Shunning cutting edge training and analytics in favour of a more old school approach should be no surprise given the names he played under, men whose style he prefers to imitate. He then placed the immediacy of victories over long term growth by ignoring youth almost altogether. He’s not the first to feel winning today is better than planning for tomorrow, only a confident long term visionary can embrace the best of both worlds.
After being badgered from above, a common occurrence on Kerrydale Street, he would have walked away fairly confident in his abilities to eek out a career given the success under his belt.
That confidence was misplaced, hindsight now tells us fielding a better quality of player than the opposition was his main ace in the hole. A perfect ace for the biggest team in a backwater though if they are talented, hungry, and responsive to your motivation.
The Lenny we got second time around was a very different man than we had seen during that first stint though.
I said it at the time, he was setup to fail, the perfect fall guy. And so it has proved.
The season from hell will be analyzed from here to kingdom come, with each drawing their own conclusions over the root causes.
My top three in no particular order,,
1,, He removed the goals from our side. Odsonne Edouard at this moment in time is not suited to lead the line. He comes too deep, isn’t mobile enough for that job though he might have the great touch thats needed. During the successful Dubai trip the coaching staff cottoned onto the sole fact he needs another striker to play ahead of him, ideally mobile to catch the through ball. It worked, he was paired with a leading the line Griff and we romped to the ninth title in a row.
Yes Griff has been a write-off bit to go back to just Eddy is criminal.
If none of Griff, young hungry Polish workhorse, or Marko Viduka Mk2 were up to the task of leading the line, then a strong manager would have demanded someone who was.
That should have been his line in the sand, even if we ended up with Nisbet or Longshanks.
2,,allowing himself to be isolated.
At his peak he had his trusted lieutenants, which if truth be told wasn’t diverse enough. They were very similar in age and playing experience, had peaked under a Martin in his peak, so were always bound to believe somewhat in his methods. They weren’t worldly enough, no one brought anything different to the table, and they themselves had habits the modern professional looks down upon.
But they had each other, the collective knowledge of what was required after walking out that tunnel, and they also had a free shot at the title for a while, any management teams dream.
Mk2 Lenny should never have accepted the conditions offered, no Ill will at all to John and Damian or Gavin.
Celtic wanted him at the time, we know this now from Dermots comments about having their eye on him as he ticked all the boxes. Neil failed to capitalize on the cards he held,,when offered the job in the showers he should have told the world he had his own conditions of acceptance and would enter into negotiations.
He took what he was offered full stop, maybe proving the old adage love is blind.
3,,,convincing players to stay.
This is public knowledge now, he personally convinced a few to stick around for this historic campaign.
Once again hindsight is a wonderful thing, for yes there have been players persuaded to stay who went on to win the Baloon D’or (Christiano Ronaldo at United) so I’m hesitant to use this as a stick to beat Lenny with,,BUT,,
Probably the biggest reason for any very foreigner to join and play was off the table, this surely should have made a dramatic difference to the footballing department s outlook on keeping players who had expressed a desire to leave.
Think about it for a second, right now someone like Odsonne is being asked to work, live and sleep in a complete bubble in a foreign land, you’re not allowed out of your region never mind into your home country, you’ve no family around and any that do get sick you cant up sticks and visit, you’re not learning under this manager, and the atmosphere that made you sign and fall in love in the first place is gone gone gone.
Yes the chap has a local lassie, but given the extremely hard circumstances we are asking foreigners to endure is it any surprise some just check out then bail out ala Ncham, El Hamed, Frimpong?
Hindsight now tells us we should have let them go home to deal with this pandemic and empty stadium phase were they are comfortable, and filled our ranks with the best of local talents in their stead.
Does anyone reading think we would have been worse off with Gallagher, Porteus, Gauld, and Nisbet in the squad instead of the wantaways?
As a club we should learn big lessons here on when to trade and when to keep.
With his departure Neil becomes the second high profile casualty of the disastrous 10 campaign,,and it would be a travesty if Bankiers head didn’t roll to make it three. There’s very few of us would say no when Glasgow Celtic come knocking, in that respect he earns my sympathy, his love of the club was clearly his weak spot to be exploited, and it so cruelly was.
No team can expect to introduce six new first team players at once while some of the others wished to leave, and not encounter big problems. Especially in an empty stadium.
A poor manager placed in an impossible situation, set up to fail.
Ten was never on our PLC’s agenda, the Lurgan lightening rod was deemed the perfect deflector shield. Wasn’t enough to fully deflect from the CEO though, he’s a success in that regard.
There’s very few of us will ever come close to going through half of what the man has went through , all whilst battling an unseen disease, but ultimately the club must come first and it must always be bigger than just one man, no matter who.
Good luck Neil, You’ll Never Walk Alone.