Honestly, there is.
If there were such a thing as a list of Marmite managers in football then Neil Lennon’s name would most likely be on it. Whether he is in the top three or the bottom three would depend on who you pose the question to but either way his presence on said list would be there for all to see. It doesn’t make him a bad person.
So what is it about him that people either love or don’t like? He is a very different character to the last Celtic manager, and probably very different to the last half dozen who have barked the orders from the dugout. He says he’s a different manager to the one who sat in the big chair first time around. He says his temper is less volatile and he insists he has become a much calmer person and in all fairness it appears that he is right to make those claims, at least on the surface because who really knows what simmers underneath?
He does come across as a more level headed guy than before and the blood and thunder persona appears to have retreated somewhat but the fact still remains … there’s something about Lennon that divides Celtic fans. Some will say he’s the right fit for the job and anyone saying differently is over-reacting to a couple of below par performances in recent days while others will tell you that he’s not the right fit, never was and never will be. The latter group will be very difficult to convince otherwise and they may have a point.
Lennon seems to have a unique ability to ostracise certain players. Would Tierney still have been at Celtic if a different manager was in place? Those supposedly in the know will tell you that he would while others will say that the youngster was always going to leave this summer no matter who was in charge. Who do you believe? Scott Sinclair is a classic case in point. His performances in recent times may not have been spectacular but he was still scoring goals. He has netted 60 times in 153 appearances, his lowest tally being last season when he scored 17 times in 48 games. Those aren’t shabby statistics for a winger when you consider that Odsonne Edouard, the big guy up front, the top class striker, reaped 23 goals in 52 games. The difference isn’t significant yet for some reason he has been told to find another club and is being replaced by Lewis Morgan who has produced little of anything when given the nod in front of the Englishman. If you were Scott Sinclair would you be feeling just a tad disappointed? I imagine you would.
Lennon also (allegedly) had a right go at one of the younger players last season in front of all the other players. The lad was (allegedly) in tears and it looked like it was all going to explode in every direction until the players’ agent stepped in and steadied the waters. Add to all of this the rapid termination (mutually agreed of course) of his contract at Hibs after he had to be dragged away from Florian Kamberi during a heated row that left the rest of the Easter Road players saying they wouldn’t play for him again, or words to that effect anyway, and you’ll notice that controversy and ill feeling seems to follow Lennon everywhere he goes.
Is he TOO different from the last manager? Are their personalities so opposite that it is unrealistic to expect the players to cross that chasm without some trouble in the water? Didn’t Peter Lawwell & Co. think about these possible negatives before offering him a job? Or did they just go with the cheaper and more convenient guy?
Either way the facts are there for all to see. There is unrest among the supporters and possibly with some first team players and perhaps other staff as well. The common denominator in all these scenarios is Neil Lennon. And this begs the question, did Scott Brown accidentally hit the button to like the tweet that criticised Lennon or did he hit it accidentally on purpose? It’s a worthy question because if Lennon loses Brown then he’ll lose the entire changing room. Hail Hail