The weekend gave us another example of the unedifying spectacle of Neil Lennon weeping and wailing publicly over the harsh judgements made of him by others last season. None of what happened was his fault,he intoned.
So far,we have heard him say that players were forced on him against his will and better judgement by unnamed people at the club. That certain players weren’t happy when they weren’t allowed to leave in the summer of 2020,that they no longer wished to be at the club.
Some were not playing to the standards expected of them,simply because they were in a huff. Others simply said that they were injured,and didn’t actually play at all when,in his opinion,they were certainly fit enough to do so. Etc.
In fairness,I think that a lot of what he has said on the matter has more than an element of truth to it. We all witnessed a significant reduction in quality from a lot of players last season,and there certainly appeared to be a few who weren’t as committed as they had been previously. And there is no denying that some of the players definitely wanted out of the club in the summer. But for Lennon to say that none of the above was his fault leads to a rather obvious conclusion.
That he had no right to be the manager of the club if he could not motivate players. And in my opinion,a lot of that is down to the fact that he was unable to motivate himself,to show his players a level of commitment to his own job.
The basics,things like making sure that players look forward to training every morning because they know they are going to continue their learning curve,taking the next step to improve themselves as players. Or an analysis of their recent performances as well as an in-depth look at upcoming opponents,and how to both stop them from playing while improving our own chances of winning.
Going over video analysis of individual performances,planning how best to maximise our return from set pieces-and more importantly,to prevent the other side from scoring against us from their own.
Is there anyone apart from Neil Lennon himself who genuinely believes that he applied himself fully to getting the best out of his players last season? Sent them out every match fully prepared for what was to come? Pushed them and improved them in training to be the best that they can be? Let everyone in the squad know that they are in his plans,that there is a path to the first team?
I very much doubt it,yet to hear him speak now is to hear a man denying that he holds any culpability in what was not only a disastrous season for the club and the fans,it was professional suicide from him as a manager.
At the age of 50yo,he is unlikely to manage at the top level again. And that is a shame,because he was a wonderful player for us,and I’ll try to remember him for that rather than his time as a manager.
Another lesson that must be learned though from last summer is a rather unpalatable one for us as supporters. If we wind back about 16 months,I think we were all delighted that the club had decided to hold onto our top players for the season ahead. In fact,we would have accused the board of sabotage had they sold the likes of Christie,Eddie,Ntcham and Ajer.
This despite the fact that those four players in particular had made plain their intentions to depart the first chance they got. Now,there is an argument to be made that when a player signs a contract,he knows the terms and longevity. Throwing toys out of the pram about two years into a four or five year deal,demanding a move,is a sign of bad faith-at best.
Demands of this nature are a sign of the tail wagging the dog,and particularly in such a big season for us all it showed scant regard for the ambition and desires of the fans. The club were absolutely correct to keep them-but should we also have done our homework about just how much effort those players were likely to give us under the circumstances?
That’s a difficult question,because nobody could have envisaged such a lack of interest from some of them,such a total lack of professionalism. Which brings me back to a question that is always a matter of controversy with the fans. When a player makes it plain that he wants to leave the club,is it wise to keep him against his wishes-with the possible outcome that we witnessed last season-or does the club maximise his value by selling him when an appropriate offer is received?
I have always believed that the club is bigger than the player,and I still do. But last season has shown us all too graphicly the damage that unhappy players can inflict on us,both on the field and in the dressing room. It was a reality check.
Next time,if a player wants out,show him the door. We might not like it,but last season showed us that we like the alternatives even less.
Above article by BMCUWP