Celtic F.C., Motherwell F.C., Neil Lennon, Scottish Premiership, UEFA Champions League Overpaid & overpraised | Tom English on Celtic's European demise | OTB
Scotland is with us evening, tom hi nathan. How big a disaster is this uh it’s a familiar disaster nathan? You know we’ve been in this movie before with celtic uh we were with, we were in it with them last season when they blew a brilliant chance against copenhagen in the europa league uh earlier in the season last season blew another great opportunity against cluj, exited the Champions league and the season before that aek athens, when brendan rodgers was the manager exited the champions league again cheaply. So this is nothing new and neil lennon blast is nothing new we’ve seen them uh in his time at celtic. I don’t know how many times we’ve seen it and it’s. Like honestly, i went back last night when i came back from the match. I went back and i saw what he said after the cluj exit and the copenhagen exit and it’s. Almost all parts of these analysis are word for word: it’s, it’s, it’s, extraordinary, so the same it’s, the same story, the same mistakes um and most of them center around his defense. He just cannot cannot at this level, get his defense right. The manager may at times try and shift the blame, but the book is always going to stop with neil lennon. For this was he right, though, to blast his players? Should he have expected a lot more from his players because watching that second half last night, they were atrocious? It was a shocking game of football, not helped by the fact it’s in an empty stadium but you’re.
Looking at that celtic team and thinking jesus. Where does the talent come from? Where does the improvement come from? Is there more quality there than they showed last night um you? There is because eduard wasn’t playing and he’s their best player center forward uh, but of the players that started last night should they have been able to beat that team yet well. This is, this is a contentious issue right because he started with ryan christie as a center forward. Ryan christie is an attacking midfielder he’s, not a center forward. He had two strikers on his bench: uh a jetty who’s just arrived from west ham, not much fit fair enough. He was kicking his heels for much of last season with west ham uh and they had um clemala, who arrived last january, has played. Eight games started. One he was described also by neil lennon as not much fit now that doesn’t make much sense because klamala had a full preseason. He was praised in july in the in the in the preseason friendlies. He scored on the opening day of the league season against hamilton and now we’re told he’s not much fit um. I think he’s suspected, maybe neil lennon thinks he’s just not good enough and he’s, maybe covering up so he had two strikers that he could have had. He brought to the club at a total of about eight million nine million he didn’t use, either of them from the start.
He went with him centered midfielder and when he was desperate for a goal he brought his yeti on later on, but he was absolutely desperate for a goal. In the last few minutes he kept clemala polish international striker on the bench and he moved christopher julian up front the center half big tall center half to try and scramble a goal i mean it was. I mean that was panic stations at that point. So it’s all it’s it’s, all very well for neil and i’m, a big fan of neil lennon, but he has to take. He has to take a lot of responsibility for this. He brought a lot of these players to the club he center halves. Julian and ire were really poor. Uh his fullback el hammett sold the winning goal completely horrendous defending, but julian and ire they like to think of themselves as ball playing center halves. I think maybe they have an idea that they are franz beckenbauer of the modern generation. There isn’t there isn’t a lot of grunt in that uh in that defense it’s. Why lenin wants to bring in shane duffy there’s, not a lot of natural guys who are happy defending and that’s fine at scottish premiership level, because they create 100 chances and they’ll score. Eventually, most of the time in europe, they get cut out because they’re defending time and time again they’re defending, is nowhere near good enough. The easy argument, then, to defend celtic in this scenario is that they do have it too easy in scotland and at that gap, when they get to these european games, even against fairing varus from hungary is too much for them.
That it’s too much of a shock to the system is that any excuse? No no it’s, not because it’s too easy for the you might say it’s too easy for them, but that’s the way they want it that’s the way they love it. I mean that’s because they’re guaranteed for the last nine seasons, they’ve been guaranteed more or less a passage into the champions league qualifiers. That they’ve made an awful lot of money because the scottish league is weak, that’s exactly how they want it. So so they can’t say. Oh, we don’t have enough competition domestically, i mean you can’t. Have it both ways? Um, so it’s um? It listen, it’s, it’s, it’s, a big problem for them, but they had a lot of chances last night and they didn’t score and ferris schwarz had two moments. I wouldn’t even call them chances, they had two moments and they scored from both of them and celtic got suckered again and you know there isn’t at that level. This happens repeatedly. There isn’t a lot of there isn’t sufficient hunger from these celtic players, and you know we could. Maybe i suppose everybody in the media over here as well, is culpable in this, because what’s going to happen now is that celtic will probably domestically go on a winning run and they’ll batter scent mirn and they’ll batter ross county and they’ll batter some other uh team. That has a fraction of their budget and everyone will say: oh look at this celtic winning four and five and six nil, fantastic.
Ten in a row, historic celtic um. These players, i think, have become used to being praised over praised for beating opposition that they should always beat domestically and when they get to it, they get to a level against playing against farish farrows, who are a decent side, but nothing more. But what they were was very well organized and really committed and pacey on the counter attack: they’re, not they’re, not mentally tuned in to a game like that, because they don’t get it they’re all their own way. This night last week we actually had neil lennon on the show for uh a good chunk of the evening, and some of it was some of that lovely nostalgia that they love with chris sutton and cillian petrov and reminiscing, and the martin o’neiller in 2003, but also Uh onshee and my colleague spent about 25 minutes half an hour just talking about current celtic and his management style and how it’s changed since the last time and how it’s even changed since the martin o’neill era and that you can’t blast players anymore. That you have to cajole them along that you can’t corner someone in a dressing room and rip into them, but that doesn’t work for the modern player you have to have that more softer touch. What he was saying last week seems at slight odds with what he’s been saying publicly over the past 24 hours: well, yeah, yeah and also listen. What do you what he said on on saturday after they scraped a one nil against dundee united, was at odds with what he was saying last night on saturday he praised these players for being tremendous and outstanding.
Their attitude was outstanding. He said last night, some of the players want to leave they’re, not good enough they’re coming they’re, looking for a move, um they’re, making waves to exit the club they’ve been doing this for six months he’s. This has bugged him for a long time. He said those two statements, don’t necessarily add up. You know, and a lot of people over here are confused now a who’s he talking about and b, if players genuinely are coming to him saying we want to leave the club, why is he playing them? Why is he playing them? Is he in total control of transfers, um, i i’m, not sure i’m, not sure, maybe klopp and all and the real celebrated managers in total control? I wouldn’t say he’s in total control, brendan rodgers wasn’t in total control of of of transfers. At celtic i think i think, it’s a communal effort. I don’t think he would have any issue with the way that was set up um peter lawwell. The chief executives is very, very powerful because he’s very experienced – and i think neil lennon does – does lean on and peter lowell to get those deals done. So i don’t think that’s uh. I don’t think that could be put forward as an excuse that players have been brought in against these will. This will be the third straight season, then that celtic don’t make the group stage of the champions league, and i don’t know what the position to win in europe, whether they’re, banking and budgeting, or making the group stage, obviously it’s a huge bonus.
If you get there. What sort of damage does it do in terms of well bringing in shane duffy, and we graham potter on the show earlier, who was quite coy on it, but all the speculation is that duffy may end up there in terms of what lenin wants to do on This drive for the 10 in a row financially. How damaging is this for the club, it’s it’s major damage? I mean it’s this it’s twofold right, so celtic, because and we’ve i’ve spoken about this in the program before because of 1967 celtic will forever and a day see themselves as a as a european cup champions league team, a huge club, massive infrastructure, massive fan base, great History and all the rest of it um they will not let that go. They will never let that go. Excuse me, but you look at the opposition they’re losing to nowadays aek cluj copenhagen, fern forest, occasionally there’s a there’s, a real high, as there was last season when they beat lazio home and away, but it’s it’s a steady decline now, and that is that cuts to The heart of what celtic, how celtic like to see themselves as a as a team with european relevance. So this is an embarrassment for them on that score and also financially it’s 30 million plus down the swanee um in a season or a full house. Yeah absolutely yeah this year of all years. They needed that money, they don’t budget for it, but i think peter lowell would have fantasized about what that money could do to replenish the cash reserves that have kind of been emptied almost during um these months of no football, no crowds, um that’s horrendous damage done To all clubs but sell together have a huge wage bill.
I’Ve been a huge for scottish football club massive wage bill, so they have been hemorrhaging money. They kind of needed that 30 million 40 million, whatever it might be and they’ll not get it. And there was a scene last night when, when, when the whistle went and peter lowell not given to public, shows of kind of emotion, just put his head in his hands – and that told you – and it was captured by photographers that told you something about the pain Of that defeat and it’s so unnecessary, i mean they should be beaten. I know it’s a kind of an easy thing to say they should be beating ferris varus, but really they’re at home. Uh their budget outstrips french viruses and that’s a game. Celtics should win. They had a lot of chances and they didn’t get it done and they got suckered. They got suckered because they’re just weak at the back and profligate up front on peter lowell’s response then, and his head in his hands, it’s incredible how quickly football moves. Because seven days ago, we’re talking to neil lennon and they’re fresh from a six nil win in the first qualifying round against rykovic and all the talk is 10 in a row 10 in a row 10 in a row, we’ve done. European football was even touched on its importance because this season, all that matters for celtic, is 10 in a row, or so we thought until today when it feels as though they’re in full blown crisis, and it feels as though there are questions about neil lennon’s future.
Are there legitimate questions about whether he will be the man to lead them into the ten in a row because of this defeat, uh yeah i’ve heard that, from from various places today, it’s a lot of fans kind of disaffected fans. I’Ve heard this before about neil lennon um i’ve heard it numerous times about neil lennon like this is this is what happens? They have a. They have a european upset um neil lennon gets it in the neck. Players get it in the neck. Peter lowell is ordered by an angry fan, base to to get more players in and as a hubbub for about a week until celtic go out and they put five on somebody, and then they put another four or five on somebody the following week and then celtic Become this fan base becomes incredibly parochial, and this is part of the problem. This obsession with the 10 in a row i get it, but i think they’ve been singing about 10 in a raw for about five years and now what they’ll do is they’ll just retreat into this parochial world of scottish football when nothing else matters by our ten. In a row, by doing this and i’m hearing from some of my celtic supporting friends today that they wish they’re knocked out of the europa league, now you know they’re in the qualifying rounds of the europa league. They wish to get knocked out, so they could focus on securing the 10 in a row, and this is this is the default um, and i bet you if they do the ten in a row and if they win another treble last night will be the irrelevance That copenhagen became that cluj became that aek athens became, and that is part of the issue here.
The battle for the 10 in a row then that will ultimately be between celtic and rangers. You expect the trump card that celtic have is oddsson eduard and his goal scoring power and neil elena may well point his absence last night and feel like he was setting aside one arm tied behind their back because he is their number one, their main man. I think his 11 european goals over the last couple of seasons – the word was that he had a niggle uh is the truth that he had an eagle. Are there concerns? Actually, maybe that maybe he doesn’t fancy this listen? This is this. Is one of football’s greatest goldfish, bowls and um? Nobody takes anything at face value after a result like this. So what might be a legitimate niggle has now turned into edward, not wanting to play because he wants a move. So the honest answer is: i don’t know what the truth is here right uh. I know that edward has been a scrupulously honest player, hungry player, passionate terrific footballer. I haven’t seen a scintilla of that kind of unprofessionalism if you like from him in his time at celtic, so i’m minded to believe that he had that he had an eagle. But what i’m also minded to believe is that if he was to go to celtic now and say look my time is done here, we’re out of the champions league, i feel i need to move on then i don’t think he could be faulted for that, because I think he is good enough to play at a higher level um and maybe the time is right.
You know he’s done it. He’S done terrific work at celtic, but does he really want to be like you know? The tender is massive to fans. The celtic fans does ten nero matter to odds and edward, not really, he talks it up 10 year old. They all do they have to uh, but does it really matter to him or would he like to like a move to pastures new, more glamorous league um? I wouldn’t be surprised now if that became a narrative of this season um, you spend your life a good chunk of it, covering this league so it’s in your interest to be interested in it and to want it to be as successful as possible, but you’re reeling Off fearing varus and copenhagen, including you can go down through the years and these embarrassing humiliating defeats at some stage, are they not just the reality? Do they stop being embarrassing and humiliating and actually you’re all just going to have to accept? This is celtic’s level. This is rangers level that all right they should beat fairing virus, but actually there’s, not much between them, uh, no, absolutely yeah and that’s uh that truth drops very slowly. Um you know, scottish football is, is, is it’s kind of got a split personality, um it’s constantly beating itself up, but at the same time – and this is kind of weird – it would always expect a celtic to beat a fern schwaroz or a copenhagen or a closure, Or an aek athens, it doesn’t make any sense, but there you go, and that is that is their level um.
In fact, you could say: it’s it’s it’s, not their level, because they’re not they’re, not good enough, but at the same time you know celtics. They go out and they beat lazio home and away last season in the europa league. Now they were, and they were good value both times they deserved to win it wasn’t a smash and grab they deserved to involve those games and range rangers did well in europe. As well last season, so rangers rangers beat portland at some terrific results in europe, so they can do it um, but they are also prone to falling over themselves and first for us last night. Okay, there was no fans in the stadium that probably helped them, but they weren’t afraid of her. You know and they weren’t, because if you look at it you know we talk about all the great european nights at celtic park with fans fair enough, but a lot of these great european nights at celtic park end in celtic losing you know their record there isn’t A stellar nowhere near as stellar as people like to think it is so they’re they’re on a spiral here, um where uh, where five six seven years ago, they were losing in the champions league. Well, five, six seven years ago, maybe more, they were beating barcelona. They beat barcelona at home. They had a heroic performance at camp nou and lost 2 1 about four or five minutes into injury time.
In a europe uh champions league game um they beat ix, they beat ac. Milan go back a little bit now. Certainly, in my time in scotland i bought all these games beat man united further back under thunderstrucken, but now they’re losing to a level of opposition that is way below that like way below so it’s, and it is it’s it’s part financial, but it is also a Part it’s a kick to the solar plexus of every celtic fan, who, who i know i’m repeating myself, but you can’t, you can’t stress this enough. Europe is massive to win them. The ten in a row is is huge, but europe is also in them because of the lisbon lions and it’s never coming out. So this is painful painful for them, uh to see them losing against this opposition and when they do, the manager normally and the team reap the whirlwind.