Celtic are the top dogs that everyone wants put down

Neil Lennon

Celtic are going into the new season off the back of an historic treble treble and looking to equal Jock Stein’s record of nine-in-a-row, but you would have thought they were a club in crisis given the coverage that is being banded about and comments from certain elements of the Celtic support.

During the nineties, Rangers were the top dogs thanks to bank loans from David Murray’s pals in the Bank of Scotland fuelling their transfer spending, followed by the tax dodging EBT schemes that Rangers ran to buy their way to underhanded glory. All the while, Celtic were taking care of business both on and off the field. They worked to a strict business plan, never wavering in the face of fans demanding they match the spending power of their rivals. And hindsight has proven that the Celtic board under Fergus McCann were right to stick to their plan.

Yet some Celtic fans are repeating the same mistakes of their fathers – those that don’t know how good they’ve got it!

Over two decades on, Celtic are still being run financially sound while Scottish football is now subjected to a new Rangers – still haunted by the old club’s liquidation thanks to those dodgy EBT schemes and screwing HMRC and other creditors out of the money they were due. A Rangers side that hasn’t learned the lessons from the demise of their liquidated predecessor as they trade for a seventh season living beyond their means, so that they can chase Celtic down and usurp them at the top table.

While the Celtic board and manager face the wrath of the Celtic support over their failure to spend quickly and spend big, Rangers are set to bring in their SEVENTH player of the summer transfer window – yet not one of those signed would make the bench at Celtic, let alone the first team.

And while the Celtic fans criticise the board, the Scottish mainstream media are doing their best in fuelling stories of Celtic’s top players quitting the Scottish champions for Leicester City or Arsenal. Along with phantom £5 million bids for Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna.

The media in this country have pounced on the negativity among elements of the Celtic support, that manifested seconds after the Celtic board announced Neil Lennon as the new manager after he secured the treble treble. They are fuelling that negativity with their own opinion pieces, demands that Celtic should cash in on the likes of Kieran Tierney, that McGregor is off to Leicester, and bigging up a Rangers side that are throwing everything at this season in a bid to stop Celtic any way possible.

And here is the issue – during Rangers’ nine-in-a-row years not once did we hear from pundits slabbering at the thought of the Ibrox side being weakened, their best players being sold, nor did they gleefully write about a resurgent Celtic. There were no FA officials going public with how bored they are at Rangers winning everything – but we did have FA officials interfering in the likes of the Jorge Cadete transfer to hold it up. An act that cost the late Jim Farry his job.

There was no talk of needing a strong Celtic to challenge Rangers or that the Ibrox side’s European campaign failures were down to the lack of a challenge from Rangers or within the Scottish game.

Yet we are subjected to all of the above on a daily basis because it is Celtic dominating the game and not Rangers.

David Murray had the press on a tight leash and they lapped up every scraps like dutiful wee puddles, while it looks like Peter Lawwell and the Celtic PR department just let the media have a free-for-all. There was no statement in regards to the shameful article from Keith Jackson finding Celtic guilty of crimes that they have not been charged with or proven to have committed. They have allowed certain politicians mouth off as they jump on the bandwagon with no repercussions, they’ve seen the media lie through their teeth about issues over the seasons – and nothing is done about it.

Why not?

It is now being left to Celtic fans, bloggers and Celtic-supporting journalists to dismiss the lies, the allegations and the laughable claims from the usual suspects. But Celtic need to take a harder stance against those wanting to bring down Celtic for their own ends – whether they be journalists, politicians, or pros-turned-pundits.

We know that Celtic will not be top dogs forever, but despite the glee from across the city and their puppets in the press fuelling claims of a resurgent bang-average Rangers side, the Scottish champions are still the strongest team in the country. They know what it takes to win the league over the course of the season rather than in December.

I’m not saying the Celtic board should not be criticised, in fact they still deserve to face criticism over the issues they are involved with directly or indirectly – but it just seems to be that some are attacking them for the littlest thing because they simply don’t like the board or pander to the militants in the support who are anti-board for differing reasons – namely, not doing a Rangers in the 90s and spending big on players and doing what the fans demand at every turn.

And there are the pathetic comments from some elements of the Celtic support belittling a man who has given blood, sweat and tears for this club. Neil Lennon is a man with Celtic in his heart. He has had a love affair with the club for over 20 years, he has faced bombs, bullets, assaults on and off the pitch, disgusting sectarian and racist abuse, he has fought depression, he has fought his own demons in his private life and yet he comes back for more. Because his love for Celtic is as strong as the love that the fans have for the club.

I still have my misgivings about Lennon being appointed Celtic manager, I aired them in the run up to the Scottish Cup Final and aired them afterwards when he was appointed – but a month after Celtic clinched the treble treble, we are still seeing comments about Lennon from Celtic fans about him being the cheap option, a board yes man, that he won’t have any money to spend and that’s why he was brought in.

These individuals – whether they are from the Sky football generation of the game or experienced Rangers being top dogs year in year out – need to get a grip of themselves. We had some bitching and moaning two days into the transfer window because we hadn’t signed anyone! Then tried to pin the blame on Peter Lawwell and the Celtic board for the Turnbull transfer saga – when it was clearly fuelled by his agent looking for his client to get the big bucks before he had earned the right to those riches.

Rather than belittling the club’s manager and everything that the board do, they need to support the club, properly critique the choices that have been made, are being made and then when the players run onto the pitch support them unwaveringly.

Celtic are being painted as a club in crisis, by the media and even our own fans, Rangers fans think that this is going to be their year to add to the collection of pots and pans they bought from the liquidators before they were pawned to Cash Converters. Celtic are the top dogs that everyone wants to put down, but Celtic need to bite back on and off the field, making sure they know who is boss.

And if they don’t know who is boss the first time, bite them harder until they get the message – be it the media, the club across the city or even our own fans with chronic disorders every time the wind changes direct.

Time that some stopped bitching and moaning, stop being pathetic wee snowflakes and how hard done by you feel because Celtic signed Neil Lennon up as manager, rather than a Jose Mourinho or Rafa Benitez. Celtic needs a Celtic-man at the helm, Lennon knows how much 9IAR would mean to the fans and the club as a whole, and he knows how historic 10 would be.

For all that Brendan Rodgers achieved as Celtic manager, he threw that and his legacy away for the riches of the English leagues. He played on the love for the club that the fans have, he used it to win over the fans and when it came time for him to chase the money or history at the club he claimed to love – he quit for the money AND ripped out the majority of the back room staff at the same time leaving Celtic in chaos.

Lennon came in and steadied the ship with John Kennedy, Stevie Woods and Damien Duff. He won the league and the Scottish Cup under immense pressure from the media and the fans. He secured a treble treble, when there were claims he would throw it away or bottle it.

Lennon deserves his opportunity again, he started the run to 10 in a row he deserves to cross that line and enter the club’s history books as not only a great player and manager, but a great Celtic man.

Those mouthpieces in our support who keep on targeting the Celtic board and Neil Lennon, need to remember the lyrics of Over and Over.

Oh, over and over, we will follow you,
Over and over, we will see you through,
We are Celtic supporters, faithful through and through,
And over and over, we will follow you.

Nowhere is their disclaimers about how much or little the Celtic board need to spend, there is nowhere in the lyrics that state there has to be a certain type or level of manager to take control of the club. Nowhere in the lyrics does it say we are shitting ourselves over Rangers signing League 2 defenders or a guy looking for one more good pay check before he retires.

Simply put you support the club through thick and thin. Critique all you want. Criticism the club’s transfer dealings when the window ends. Criticise Neil Lennon if or when we are knocked out of a cup competition or lose the league.

But one thing is clear to me, I’d rather have this Celtic board than the Kellys. I’d rather have this Celtic board than any of those at Rangers. I’d rather have Neil Lennon than Jose Mourinho – because Lennon knows what the club is all about, he does what is in the best interests of the club. While Mourinho is all about himself, what he can achieve, what’s in it for Jose, in short looking to fuel his own ego.

Celtic need Neil Lennon’s battle, determination, courage and above all his heart. We don’t need a big name ego looking to resurrect their career.

So time to ditch the bitching and give the club the 100% support it should get.

Andy Muirhead

Andy Muirhead

Andy Muirhead is the former editor of Scotzine and producer of the Scottish football podcast, The Final Whistle. He has written for ESPN, Huffington Post, BT Sport, and The Morning Star, with work also featured in the Daily Record, the Scotsman, Daily Mail, Daily Express and numerous fan websites.

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