Premier League – European Nights Proving too much?

It feels like it’s been a lot longer than 4 years since Chelsea lifted the Europa League, an English sides’ last triumph in any European competition. Whilst Man Utd have a reasonable opportunity to win the same competition this season, not many could have predicted such a sharp decline in the performance of the teams from the richest league in the world under the floodlights across the continent.

Allow me to explain…

Since the 1999-2000 season there have been 64 finalists spread over The Champions League & Europa League, the top representatives by country of origin: –

  • Spain – 23
  • Portugal – 7
  • England – 14
  • Italy – 6
  • Germany – 8

Are we accepting that a little over 20% of finalists being from the “money machine” that is the Barclays Premier league is acceptable?

Of the 14 English clubs who have made it to the various finals, only 4 have prevailed, Sevilla alone have won on 5 occasions and they would not usually be mentioned in the same breath.

It is also worth remembering that even the much maligned Scottish Premiership has provided 2 finalists within the same period (Celtic 2003 & Rangers 2008).

Tottenham-vs-Gent-Image

The afore mentioned Man Utd could break the recent trend this season and lift the Europa League, however loses to Feyenoord and Fenerbache accompanied by drab draws against FC Rostov and Anderlecht would hardly see them as worthy winners.

In fact, this season has seen English Premier League sides (Spurs & Man Utd) face opposition from Belgian First Division A (KAA Gent & Anderlecht) over four legs and only produce a solitary England win…A 2-1 extra time win.

Other such failings in recent seasons have included:-

  • FA Cup winners Wigan prop up their Europa League group
  • Hull City defeated by Lokeren in the qualifying rounds
  • Everton take 5 from Dynamo Kiev
  • Southampton 1-2 Midtylland
  • Liverpool losing out to Basel in 2014-15
  • Man Utd slipping to 3rd in a group of Wolfburg, PSV & CSKA
  • And who can ignore Arsenal’s recent meetings with Bayern…

Football is football and that’s why we love the game and yes the odd surprise defeat can occur, however these are over 2 legs, or in group stages containing multiple games, EPL sides should NOT be crashing out under these circumstances.

Are Stoke better than Schalke, could Bournemouth batter Bordeaux or would we see Everton ease past Espanyol?

I think the honest answer has to be a resounding no to all of the above.

The self-proclaimed “best league in the world” is being outshone by sides from divisions on which they look down on as being not worthy of sharing their pitches.

The EPL and its member clubs need to raise the bar to a whole new level to re-assert itself as a provider of dominant club sides when competing in European competitions or risk falling further behind.

Champions-League-Group-Stage

Tottenham vs Gent image sourced from; www.fourfourtwo.com
Champion’s League group stage image sourced from; www.goal.com

Stuart Armstrong – A Promising Future

In recent times some of the best talent in the Scottish Premiership has made their way south… Mainly to Southampton it has to be said.

We’ve seen Fraser Forster, Virgil Van Dijk, Steven Davis and Victor Wanyama all arrive on the south coast from opposite sides of the Old Firm divide.

Add in Steven Naismith (Everton), Andy Robertson (Hull), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Gary Hooper (Norwich) and Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace) you’d have a strong argument to suggest that contrary to belief, there is a wealth of talent north of the border.

Well there is a man who has the potential to top them all and go on to become a stand out player for a top club in the English Premier League , that man is Celtic’s Stuart Armstrong.

Signed from SPL rivals Dundee United January 2015 the all-action midfielder has gone on to become one of Brendan Rodgers’ key men in their push for an unprecedented unbeaten domestic treble.

With 13 goals so far this term it is only team mate Moussa Dembele that can possibly beat him to any of Player of the Year accolades shortly to be handed out.

Stuart-Armstrong-Image

Perhaps surprisingly it was only last month in which Armstrong made his international debut. Unsurprisingly he was the best player on the park by a mile. He covered every blade of Hampden turf on a “do or die” night for Scotland. He carried a nation and was rightly awarded MOM for his endeavours.

The sublime and composed pass so late in the game that gave Chris Martin the opportunity to keep The Tartan Army’s faint Russia 2018 hopes alive typified the season that the Celt is having.

Celtic’s £2.5M outlay looks a steal and they are certain to make a huge profit should they decide the time is right to cash in. Having only just turned 25, Armstrong is still a couple of seasons away from his peak but he has all the attributes to make it to the very top.

The scouts must be watching and reporting back to their respective managers to ready that chequebook.

Check out this video on Youtube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dodHHHTTAaU 

Stuart Armstrong image sourced from; www.celticnewsnow.com

 

 

Jan 17 Transfer Window – Who needs what?…SPFL edition

The transfer window is fully OPEN!

Scotland is one of the most oddly run football associations in Europe and this is shown in the split between the top division and the rest. Whilst Hibs & Dundee United were contesting a top of the table clash in the extremely competitive Championship, the Ladbrokes Premiership sides have just returned from sunning themselves on a winter break.

This means that any significant transfer activity is in full swing now those planes have landed back at Glasgow or Edinburgh airport over the past few days.

Before the phones start ringing and agents start taking their barely-earned commission cuts we thought we’d run through the leagues and advise who needs what.

The Ladbrokes Premiership is all but over, Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic are currently 19 points clear of the chasing pack but that won’t stop the former Liverpool gaffer spending. The Glasgow giants will bring in a couple of new faces and don’t be surprised to see a relatively big name arrive on loan.

Rumours of Everton’s James McCarthy could prove true however we see a squad being built for a further assault on next seasons Champions League.

The best of the rest include Rangers, Aberdeen and Ian Cathro’s Hearts. The latter has promised a squad overhaul and with his contacts in Spain and the North East, you wouldn’t bet against some known names arriving. Aaron Hughes has already arrived at Tynecastle to add experience and stability to their backline.

The biggest internal transfer could see Niall McGinn move from Aberdeen to Hearts on a pre-contract agreement. A strange one in our opinion, as surely the Northern Irishman will have offers from English Championship clubs as well as abroad.

Niall-McGinn-Image.jpg

Rangers need miracles to close the gap on their nearest and dearest across the City. In a previous article we stated that Mark Warburton is not the man for Ibrox and our thoughts haven’t changed. He will not pinpoint nor attract the correct players for the job, in Scotland 2nd is nowhere…3rd or 4th is unforgivable!

Down at the bottom is where we’ll see the season defining signings with just 6 points separating 6 teams.

Lee Clark has raided his old stomping ground at Newcastle for some loans. ICT will need to either stick or twist with Ritchie Foran in the hope he can find a striker to fire them to safety and Hamilton need to hang onto Ali Crawford to have any chance of remaining in the top tier.

Dundee have enough talent to keep their heads above water, as do Motherwell. However with Sam Allardyce lining up a £500K bid for 12 goal Moult, the Fir Park men will need to reinvest some capital in a key area.

Dropping down a division brings us to the hotly contested Championship. Hibs have already played their cards bringing in Kris Commons and former PNE winger Chris Humphrey, truth be told – they are both too good for this level and give Lennon’s men a significant advantage. Dundee United will need to respond to the business done in Edinburgh and respond quickly they have by recruiting Danish hitman Thomas Mikkelsen, further bodies are required to keep up with the Scottish Cup holders however.

The chasing quartet include an improving Morton and an in-form Dunfermline who will look to build on solid seasons and cement a place in the end of season play offs. A goal scorer to cover for the injured Quitongo in Greenock and a midfield engine, to add to the impressive Callum Morris capture at East End Park are on the respective wish lists.

Over at Peter Houston’s Falkirk they will be keen to hold onto Craig Sibbald whilst bringing in a loan from the top division to add squad depth.

At the foot of the table Jack Ross’ St Mirren are 7 adrift and no amount of incomings are likely to bridge the current gap.

Into Scottish League One and it’s defenders that are required all over! Every club has conceded more goals than games they have played. Livingston will look to capitalise on their current 9 point lead by holding onto top scorer Liam Buchanan, a potential sale of youngster Matthew Knox to Man Utd could provide some much needed investment if they’re to step up a level next season.

Similar to the Premiership, the chasing pack are all closely bunched. Alloa were our pre-season tips for promotion, so we’ll stick with them to challenge. Spence and Kirkpatrick are scoring the goals but they need to keep them out at the back to maintain a push. Mark Wilson could well be calling in some favours from former club Celtic to bring some young talent to aid an Airdrieonians promotion tilt.

Stenhousemuir sit 2nd bottom and are deep in relegation trouble (just as we predicted back in August) they will need to recruit to have any chance of survival.

alloa-airdrie-image

Last but not least we move to the lower reaches of the Scottish football pyramid, League Two.

Pre-season favourites Forfar are leading the way as expected and Gary Bollan will be satisfied with his squad, we cannot foresee any additions at Station Park.

Elgin will need to ensure that they hold onto Shane Sutherland to ensure a play-off spot come May and the rest of the league is open to change every single week. Currently the bottom 4 teams are separated by just a single win, money is null so it’s going to be make do with what you have and hope you do enough to survive from Stirling to Berwick.

Niall McGinn image is sourced from; Aberdeenjournals
Alloa and Airdrie image is sourced from; www.dailyrecord.co.uk

Mark Warburton – A Job too Big

The honeymoon is over for Mark Warburton at Rangers FC. The job is bigger than most people and it is becoming increasingly clear that the 54 year old Englishman is out of his depth in the hot seat of one of the most high profile clubs in Europe.

When he and Davie Weir were recruited after their questionable departure from Brentford it was seen as somewhat of a coup, a Managerial team who had led The Bees to their highest ever finish of 5th in The SkyBet Championship.

mark-warburton-rangers-2-2

Warburton comes across as a confident and slightly arrogant man, but he is now finding out why so many of his Old Firm predecessors have failed…The Glasgow goldfish bowl is a pressure cooker!

Yes he has the Scottish Championship title and Petrofac Cup to his name from his full season in charge, however – these were the least the club expected from the 2015/16 season given the failure to retake their place in the SPL at the 1st time of asking in the previous year.

7 games into his 1st season managing in a top flight league and he is finding the going tough. A mere 9 points from 21 is not something which you associate with a domestic superpower like the Ibrox side. Currently they sit in 7th place, 7 points behind Celtic – who also have a game in hand against the current basement side Partick Thistle.

Draws against Hamilton, Ross County and a 10 man Kilmarnock are bad enough, but throw in defeats against Aberdeen and a 5-1 hammering from Celtic, without Griffiths and you have some serious questions to answer north of the border. Over the course of a season these results raise questions, but in September it should leave his position untenable.

In fact, he is currently 3 points worse off than Paul Le Guen’s side in the 06-07 season. The Frenchman was the club’s shortest serving manager lasting just 8 months.

Pre-season recruitment has brought Warburton’s scouting into the spotlight. The wages being spent on the additions of Barton, Kranjcar, Hill, Senderos and Gilks could be put to better use. Whilst the near £3m spend on Garner, Dodoo and the under-used Jordan Rossiter are not proving value for money. You’d have thought that given recent sanctions the Rangers Board many have learned lessons in frittering away money, perhaps not.

Joey Barton has been paid £80,000 during a 4 weeks suspension and left him with plenty of time to promote his new book, further calling into question Warburton’s role as chief. A manager cannot be undermined by someone such as Barton and anything other than the tearing up of Joey’s 2 year deal will further weaken his position. Kenny Miller is fresh from an overnight stay in the slammer which doesn’t help his cause either.

Perhaps more importantly Mark Warburton just does NOT UNDERSTAND the Old Firm and what it means. Quotes such as “no major gulf, ”nobody died” and his amazement at the negativity at the result will not bode well with the diehard fans. He certainly shouldn’t have looked to the English top 4 loving TalkSport for inspiration as he did after the Killie draw. Note to all fans outside of the EPL… TalkSport, talk repeated nonsense.

There is also no sympathy from any neutral in Scotland that John Beaton awarded a decision against The ‘Gers at the weekend. Sorry Mark but your over reaction raises nothing but smiles and sniggers, god knows every other team has had it against them 10 times worse and in much bigger games.

Celtic are certainties to make it 6 titles on the spin this season and you’d struggle to make a plausible argument against them equalling the record of 9 in a row. That could quite easily become 10, 15 or 20 given how far away Rangers are. The likes of Hearts and Aberdeen are getting closer and they are now Celtic’s main rivals for domestic honours, not their city neighbours.

His “magic hat” has slipped, his team are in the bottom half of the SPL and the inevitable discontent from the terraces has begun…

Mark Warburton your time should be coming to an end because the job is just too big for you!

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First Mark Warburton image sourced from; www.skysports.com
Second Mark Warburton image sourced from; www.dailyrecord.co.uk

2016 / 17 – Pre-Season Tips

With the start of a new league season just days away, it’s that time of the year where we’ll all be marking our coupons with the expectation of collecting a fortune come May.  Hopefully with a couple of doubles, trebles or accumulators and if you’re brave enough a Leicester City style 5000/1 price may be in reach.

Whilst we acknowledge there are still players to be transferred in or out and a LOT of money to be spent or squandered before the transfer window slams shut on 31st August, it is time to name our tips for titles, promotion and relegation for leagues North and South of the border.

We have opted to name promotion only in the English leagues and remove from the Scottish leagues as realistically who can predict the play offs!

Anyway here goes…

Premier League

Title – Man Utd                    Relegation – Hull City, Burnley & Sunderland

Mourinho’s Man Utd v Guardiola’s Man City is the title shootout for us this season. Arsenal and Chelsea have yet to meaningfully strengthen, Spurs won’t be as close again and Leicester’s win was a one off. Jose has addressed key areas were the reds were lacking and with Zlatan’s magic arriving at Old Trafford we think they’ll come out on top in the North West and in England.

It was difficult to choose a complete three for relegation this season, Hull were the only obvious choice with no manager and no money spent so far. We think Burnley will have tremendous fight under Sean Dyche but will more than likely suffer relegation with a couple of games remaining.

Third and final side in our list is Moyes’ Sunderland, we don’t feel they are good enough to stay up and that the ex-Everton manager will further damage the reputation he built at Goodison Park.

Guardiola-Mourinho-Image

Championship

Title – Newcastle Utd           Promotion – Norwich          
Relegation – Burton, Rotherham & Reading

Providing Rafa Benitez sticks around, it is extremely difficult to make an argument for any other side to win the Championship this season. They have recruited well with Gayle, Ritchie and Hanley coming in and with 52,000 cheering them on every week it should be a comfortable march to the title. Look out for Scotland International, Ritchie, for Player of the year at this level too.

We also assume an immediate return to the top flight for Alex Neil’s Norwich. The Canaries have stuck with the Scotsman who guided them to promotion and subsequent relegation, which is good to see in this day and age. He has held the squad together but could do with adding a goal scorer to ensure an easier few months.

The Championship is one of the most challenging leagues in Europe and there will be numerous teams battling it out at the bottom for survival. Our picks based on current views are Burton Albion, Rotherham and Reading.  Having watched Burton stumble towards promotion without Hasselbaink at the helm, the step up will be too much for them. Stubbs has replaced Warnock at Rotherham but his inability to guide Hibs to promotion in Scotland does not stand him in good stead for his new challenge. Reading have recruited former Man Utd man Jaap Stam as manager so you’d expect them to be watertight at the back. They just haven’t threatened in the past few seasons and perhaps they are going to be involved at the wrong end of the table this time around.

League One

Title – Charlton         Promotion – MK Dons        
Relegation – Oldham, Fleetwood & AFC Wimbledon

Continuing the Championship theme of teams bouncing straight back from relegation with Charlton Athletic & MK Dons. Last season many managers played their part in the Addicks drop, but with Russell Slade in the hot seat they will be one of the better teams in League Two. MK Dons have held onto Karl Robinson and that could be their best bit of business throughout the summer. Both sides have to be considered as Championship-level teams and will be striving to return at the 1st attempt.

Whilst we’ll all be looking forward to the hotly anticipated meetings of Wimbledon’s old and new we feel that the new boys will make a swift return to League Two. It’s been a fairytale journey for them getting to this level in double quick time, but one step too far with current with current set up in place for us. We anticipate they will be joined in the drop by serial lower half finishers Oldham and the lads from Fleetwood Town.

League Two

Title – Portsmouth          Promotion – Plymouth          
Relegation – Newport County & Morecambe

It’s about time Portsmouth started to make their way back up the leagues, the fans have saved the club at a play-off defeat last year showed they are on their way back. We fancy Paul Cook to lead them to the trophy at the 2nd time of asking.

Another team still hurting from a play-off defeat last season is Plymouth Argyle, a massive 14 players have been brought in to aid the promotion push and with former Premier League striker David Goodwillie leading the line, it’s promotion for the Pilgrims.

Dropping out of the Football League must be the most difficult thing to stomach as a fan and we’re sorry to say we see this looming for all Newport and Morecambe fans in May 2017.

Portsmouth-Plymouth-Image

Scottish Premiership

Title – Celtic                    Relegation – Hamilton

Scott Brown stoked the Old Firm fire this week by claiming that Aberdeen and not Rangers would be Celtic’s biggest challengers…We have to agree. But no matter how close Aberdeen get the trophy will once again end up in the cabinet at Parkhead. Brendan Rodgers will be looking to see out his tenure with the Hoops gathering as much silverware as possible en-route to gaining a top job back down south.

The time has come for Hamilton to gracefully depart the top flight in Scotland, year after year they serve up bottom half finishes and they look to be by far the poorest team in the division heading into the start of the campaign. We see relegation and a managerial change along the way. Kilmarnock and Dundee could also be contenders with Killie chief Lee Clark’s future looking uncertain, while at Dens – the loss of 25 Hemming’s goals would hurt any SPL side.

Scottish Championship

Title – Dundee United                    Relegation – Ayr United

Recently relegated Dundee United have swept the club clean of under-performing managers and players in the close season. Ray McKinnon now in charge and has made some shrewd additions in key areas of the park. We tip the Tangerines to pip Neil Lennon’s Hibs in what will be a closely contested title race. We’ll even throw in another cheeky prediction of Simon Murray for the league’s top scorer!

Having been promoted via the ever-so-complicated Scottish play-off system, Ayr United find themselves in a strong 2nd tier just like many others in recent seasons. Unfortunately we see them propping up the table come May.

Dundee-United-Image

Scottish League One

Title – Alloa                    Relegation – Stenhousemuir  

Jack Ross has guided Alloa to 4 wins from 4 in the League Cup this season and had his side topping Group D at the expense of Raith Rovers and holders Ross County! Form expected to be carried into the league and a swift return to the Championship to be made by the Wasps.

An 9th and 8th placed finishes in the last two seasons but we are predicting an even poorer campaign this time around for Stenhousemuir.

Scottish League Two

Title – Forfar                    Relegation – Edinburgh City

Last but by no means least, Scottish League Two. Gary Bollan’s Forfar are our pick to top the division. Bollan took over from Dick Campbell last season and couldn’t quite save the Loons from the drop. Have had some positive results in pre-season and performed reasonably well in the Betfred Cup group stage.

It’s a one season deal for Edinburgh City, Having been promoted to the league structure they just don’t look capable of competing at the higher level.

All the best to your supported teams this coming season. Sorry if we’ve predicted a bad one for you but for every title win or day in the sun, there must be a heart-wrenching relegation or missed opportunity.

Guardiola & Mourinho image sourced from; www.dailymail.co.uk
Portsmouth vs. Plymouth image sourced from; news.coral.co.uk
Dundee United Image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk

Celtic Manager – Who’s up for the challenge?

It’s all over for Ronny Delia (and John Collins).

The 2nd league title is in the bag but ultimately he is paying for his failings with his job. Delia will no doubt head back to Scandinavia and we’ll be surprised if he surfaces on these shores again.

His inability to clean up domestically and even muster up a passable performance in Europe has proved that he was never the right appointment in 2014. A club the size and stature of Celtic should NOT be taking a manager from Stromsgodset in the first place.

Ronny-Deila-Image

Peter Lawwell and the rest of the Parkhead board have decide that he isn’t the man to take the club forward next season and with the expected, slightly delayed reappearance of their nearest rivals Rangers it is the correct call in our opinion.

We are going to take a look at the runners and riders for the dugout on the east side of Glasgow:-

Brendan Rodgers

If he’s the man they want they need to act fast. Swansea City are rumoured to be interested in talks to bring their former manager back to the Liberty.

We feel Rodgers would see himself as too big for the job and would almost certainly turn it down in favour of a top flight club in England. Celtic would no doubt play with “character” under the former Liverpool gaffer but it’s not for him.

Neil Lennon

Not going to say much. It’s Neil Lennon, he’d jump at the chance especially as no-one else wants him. Failed at Bolton regardless of the money issues, not a good manager and brings a certain arrogance that most looking in don’t like.

David Moyes

Tough call for Mr Moyes, his next job is make or break. He needs to rebuild a shattered reputation.

He could come and mange the side he once played for, win a couple of trophies over a 2 or 3 year deal. The only thing he would really need to do would be prove better in Europe than Delia.

Could be the safe and stable option for both parties.

Roy Keane

The interesting candidate. Keano would certainly pull no punches and have the respect of the players from the moment he put a foot through the door.

However you can already see the day 5 months down the line…a defeat to Motherwell and a disagreement with the board and he’ll be back on the ITV sofa with Lee Dixon after a dramatic resignation. Think he’s already in the ideal job as ROI’s number 2.

Paul Lambert

Our chosen one. His last 2 jobs just haven’t been the right fit for Lambert. A former player, a champions league winner and European experience to bring to the table. Lower league success down south and would bring that gritty Scottish element that he had as a player. Would be big enough for the challenge with a 3-5 year stay a comfortable timescale.

Paul-Lambert-Image

Mentions for another couple of the outsiders but men who aren’t quite ready to make the step up go to Henrik Larsson and Paul Hartley. Both have good jobs at this moment in time but we do think they have a big future ahead of them. Don’t be surprised to see either of these be the choice next time around.

The big job awaits someone soon, It’s going be interesting viewing watching how the chosen man goes about re-shaping an already big squad. Celtic need to add quality to progress in Europe and maintain their superiority within their own city. The SPL title is a must, coming 2nd is nowhere is Scotland!

The Old Firm – Semi Final is just the Beginning…

April the 17th will see two massive clubs play out one of the most hotly contested local derbies in World football. Celtic v Rangers is an event  like no other and let it be known that this game will light the touch paper for the 2016/17 season.

To the surprise of many Scottish football fans the 2 big guns came out together in the draw when most expected the much laughed about “hot and cold” balls to be placed into the pot.

The prospect of an Old Firm Final just before Rangers make the long awaited re-appearance in the top flight we assumed would be too good an opportunity for the SFA to overlook.  How wrong we were!

Since Rangers demotion to the Scottish 4th tier in 2012 these 2 rivals have met only once, In the League Cup Semi Final of 2015. Rangers were no match for Celtic either on the park or off it a year ago but this time around they are a different proposition.

Old-Firm-Game-Hampden

Rangers have rid themselves of a lot of deadwood and players not capable of producing a Championship title at the 1st time of asking last term. They had paid big wages and carried the likes of Ian Black, Bilel Moshni and Steve Simonsen for too long the new management team of Warburton and Weir have cleared the decks and brought in their own men. Mainly raiding Wigan Athletic for 3 solid footballers who have settled well in Glasgow.

Over in Glasgow’s East End this could quite easily be seen as one of Ronny Delia’s last act’s as Celtic Manager. His 12 moth rolling contract will once again be up for review at the end of the season and with a poor European performance (Europa League – Played 6, won 0), League Cup Semi defeat to Ross County and a strong title challenge from Aberdeen still on the cards, it is difficult to make a case for him being given another season. Speculation is rife with David Moyes and even Ryan Giggs being mentioned for the role, Delia is not and never will be the man for Parkhead.

The game itself will be set up perfectly by the time it comes around, Rangers have secured the Scottish Championship title and will be determined to prove many doubters wrong by upsetting the bookies and making it to the final. Celtic will still have one eye on the league and will undoubtedly be under pressure to dispatch of their fiercest rivals just like last year.

3 battles on the day will be key to deciding who will play either Hibs or Dundee United in the 144th Final…Griffiths v Wilson – Brown v Holt – Delia v Warburton.

Celtic-vs-Rangers

Next season will see at least 3, more likely to be 4 Old Firm games return to our screens and it fair to say they have been missed. They are looked forward too by millions around the world and really should be mentioned in the same breath as El Clasico, The Manchester and Merseyside derbies.

The football on show may be looked down upon by some but you’d struggle to name a poor game between these two giants.

Back to the impending duel however…Hampden will be packed to the rafters, the respective ends will be in full voice and make no mistake both sets of fans will be arriving expecting to leave victorious. Celtic are there for the taking in our opinion and this alone should make for a fantastic Semi Final.

As long as the players and fans behave then roll on Sunday 17th April!

Old Firm image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/jackross
Old Firm crowd image sourced from; www.thetimes.co.uk/sport/football

Are we starting to see the managerial failing of Neil Lennon?

Neil Lennon was Celtic Manager between March 2010 – May 2014, in this time he had the opportunity to secure 14 domestic trophies with the biggest club in the country.

Neil-Lennon-Celtic-Trophy

Add into this the demise of Rangers during the 2011-12 season and their subsequent relegation to the 3rd tier of Scottish football, Lennon really should have delivered more than the 5 trophies he eventually did.

3 SPL titles & 2 Scottish Cups was in my opinion a poor return for a manger with all the resources at his disposal.

His attitude and touchline demeanour were nothing short of scandalous at times and his inability to praise other teams for good performances was a serious flaw. Lennon also likes to play the blame game, with the blame staying as far away from himself as possible.

Yes there was the memorable Champions League campaign of 2012-13, the beating of the mighty Barcelona and qualification from the group made a lot of people sit up and take notice. However with Lennon’s other 3 UCL campaigns ending before group stage qualification (2) or a disappointing 1 win group stage exits (1) you may put that particular season down to the 1st season absence of the neighbours from across the city.

Good signings in the form of Gary Hooper, Virgil Van Dijk and Emilio Izaguirre were countered balanced by big money flops such as Teemu Pukki, Derk Boerrigter and Mo Bangura.

Again basing it on trophies won, you’d have to question Lennon’s ability to drive a team too good for the SPL in truth, onto win everything in their path.

A total of 42 signings came through the door in his time, 10+ per season to achieve what exactly?

Well a major positive from Lennon’s time is the transfer fees Celtic have managed to receive for numerous players. It’s a shame they don’t treat the other SPL teams with the same respect as they demand to be shown in this area, but that’s another story.

However the fact that he was seen as such as success really has to be questioned, the majority of us could take on the Celtic job and at least win 1 trophy per season.

Key question – Are Celtic in safer hands under Delia or is he another Lennon is disguise?

Upon leaving Celtic he was linked with numerous roles down south including Leicester City, Cardiff City and Fulham before ultimately officially being approached by Bolton Wanderers.

Now the Trotters are a team lacking funds having had the last of their parachute payments and by paying poor players too high wages for an extra season or two since relegation.

He has since taken charge of 51 matches, winning just 14 leaving him with a poor win % of 27.45%.

Neil-Lennon-Bolton-Manager

Questionable signings of Eidur Gudjohnsen, Emile Heskey and Gary Madine show that without the considerable funds and pull of fortress Parkhead, he struggles to build a squad.

Could Lennon not have used his “experience” to take some of the better SPL players and give them a chance to prove their worth in the North West?

Bolton Wanderers currently sit bottom of one of the toughest and most competitive leagues in Europe, The Sky Bet Championship and I for one wouldn’t bet against Lennon and Bolton parting ways before relegation looms towards the business end of the season.

Neil-Lennon-Bolton-Wanders-Manager

Neil Lennon & Celtic Cup Win image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk
Neil Lennon & Matt Miles image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk
Neil Lennon bottom image sourced from; www.theguardian.com