Nine games that led to Neil Lennon’s downfall at Celtic

Celtic have suffered a string of disappointing results on the domestic and European front this season.

Nine games that led to Neil Lennon’s downfall at Celtic SNS Group

Neil Lennon’s second spell as Celtic boss has ended.

Celtic are 18 points behind in the Premiership and have suffered a string of miserable results in Europe.

Here’s a look at the big games this season where it went wrong for the Northern Irishman and his reaction each time.

Celtic 1 Ferencvaros 2

Lennon came under fire when Celtic were bounced out of the Champions League in August after Tokmac Nguen snatched a breakaway goal against the run of play in the 74th minute in the one-legged tie. The manager was unimpressed by some of his players and said: “I am angry, frustrated, disappointed. There are some players who may want to leave. They have made inroads into that in the last six months or so. If they are making waves to leave the club they are obviously not committed. We want players committed to the club.”

Celtic manager Neil Lennon holiding his head in frustration as Celtic loses to Hungarian Ferencvaros side Ferencvaros to exit Champions League.
Lennon during the defeat to Ferencvaros.

Celtic 0 Rangers 2

Rangers struck the first blow in the Premiership title race with a comfortable victory against a subdued Hoops side following a Connor Goldson double. Following the defeat in October, Lennon said: “They have done it before but we can’t live off the past either, this is the present. We have a title race on our hands and we have to roll our sleeves up and do better.”

Celtic lost at home to Rangers in October.

Celtic 1 Sparta Prague 4

A calamitous Bonfire Night for Celtic and Lennon, who laid into his players after a dispiriting defeat against a makeshift Sparta Prague side. The Celtic boss said: “It’s unacceptable. A lack of application, lack of hunger. There has to be a culture change. I have to change it quickly and the players have to change quickly because it’s not acceptable.”

Sparta Prague 4 Celtic 1

Three weeks later Celtic crashed out of Europe with another thrashing at the hands of the Czechs. Lennon was defiant, saying: “I have been in situations like this as a manager and a player. There is no reason to believe we won’t turn it around. We’re bitterly disappointed with the run we are on but we know we have the minerals to turn it around.”

Celtic 0 Ross County 2

Celtic’s first domestic cup defeat since April 2016 proved too much for some fans, who protested outside Celtic Park as a nightmare November drew to a close. Lennon could hear them calling for his head as he walked into his post-match media conference. “It doesn’t make me feel good obviously,” he said. “We are not in a good moment. I think I should get more time at it but, if not, then so be it.”

Rangers 1 Celtic 0

Celtic realistically could not afford defeat in the New Year fixture. They dominated for an hour until Nir Bitton’s dismissal proved a turning point and a Callum McGregor own goal gave the Gers victory. Lennon admitted his side had “a lot to do” and added: “It’s a sore one because we were the dominant team. We played brilliantly and I didn’t think it was a red card. You have got to keep going. You can’t just say it’s over, because there is still a lot of football to be played.”

Celtic’s title hopes suffered a crushing blow at Ibrox in January.

Livingston 2 Celtic 2

Celtic failed to win the next three games after their derby defeat with a controversial trip to Dubai backfiring after Lennon and 13 players were told to self-isolate following Christopher Jullien’s positive Covid-19 test. With most of their players and Lennon back, they drew with Livingston for the second time in five days and saw Scott Brown sent off five minutes after coming on. Lennon said: “I won’t walk away, absolutely not. I’ve put too much into this. Too much of my life. And a month ago we won the treble. We’ve lost two games in the league. Europe wasn’t good enough and we’re out of the League Cup. But we’re human beings and we haven’t played well for whatever reason.”

Celtic 1 St Mirren 2

Another defeat followed on January 30, 24 hours after the summer departure of chief executive Peter Lawwell was announced. “I would say this is the lowest point of my management here, over the six years I have been manager,” said Lennon. “I want to show strength but I need some support and performances from players. Too many of them have been insipid this season, to say the least. Whatever walk of life you are in you need to have a form of professional pride. Especially at a club like this. Maybe the pressure of doing the 10 has been too much for them. Maybe they have just got tired of winning, tired of playing in Scotland, tired of living in Scotland, I don’t know.”

Ross County 1 Celtic 0

A five-match winning run gave Lennon some respite but only limited as it was revealed that Celtic’s review of his performance remained ongoing. And defeat in Dingwall on Sunday proved the final straw. Lennon admitted the game encapsulated their season after squandered chances and the concession of a set-piece goal. Speaking afterwards, he said: “I love this job, I love the club. This has been a difficult season but you always want to rebuild and go again.”

Lennon’s final game in charge saw Celtic lose 1-0 to Ross County.