By Laurie Fitzgerald
Celtic suffered another setback in their stuttering season last weekend with a disappointing 0-0 draw against Hibernian at Celtic Park.
It was a result that left them 12 points behind Rangers in the SPL title race, as well as three behind Motherwell in second position, albeit with a game in hand.
Things are not faring much better in Europe either; having been given a Europa League lifeline following FC Sion‘s expulsion, the Bhoys find themselves struggling in their group after four games.
The latest loss of points has only served to increase the pressure on Lennon as the squad’s deficiencies continue to rear their ugly head.
Celtic are currently depleted with injuries to key players such as Scott Brown, Emilio Izaguirre and Mark Wilson as Lennon’s fringe players struggle to step up in their absence.
What makes it all the more frustrating is that going into the new campaign there was renewed vigour after pushing their Old Firm rivals close last time around, and then going on to win the Scottish Cup for Lennon’s first trophy in management.
In his first full season in charge, the former midfield stalwart that helped the club to ten trophies and a UEFA Cup final during his playing career was pushing the club in the right direction following a woeful period under Tony Mowbray.
The last couple of seasons have seen the board back the Northern Irishman in order for him to create the squad he feels can achieve the sort of success that the supporters have been starved of in recent years, with their last Scottish title coming in 2008.
So it must be all the more frustrating for the fans that Ally McCoist is having to work under considerable financial restrictions in his first season in charge at Ibrox, yet is managing to develop an even larger gap between the two sides.
Eight of the starting eleven in Saturday’s draw were Lennon signings, and yet the squad seem to be falling further behind on both fronts.
They can look frail defensively, shown not only in the first Old Firm clash of the season which they lost 4-2, but also just a couple of weeks ago when they had to produce a stunning comeback to salvage a draw at Kilmarnock having been 3-0 down.
However, going forward the side look dangerous with Anthony Stokes and Gary Hooper forming a good parntership up front and the likes of Ki Sung-Yueng and Joe Ledley capable of creating the goalscoring opportunities for the front two.
There’s no way that Lennon’s commitment to the cause can be brought into question; he’s had to deal with threats and actual attempts against his own life to carry on trying to bring success to the club he loves. The 40 year-old deserves huge acclaim for the way he has handled that adversity.
He also can’t be judged as a manager less than a season and a half into his career, especially as he has put together a young side that may not reach their full potential until a year or two down the line.
But the longer that results continue in the pattern they’ve adopted, and the bigger the gap becomes at the top of the SPL, then the more the pressure will increase on Lennon.
Having overcome so much difficulty off the pitch, he deserves to be given the chance to overcome the issues on it before a decision is made on his Celtic reign.
While the fans will back him, he needs to make sure that the players that he has placed his faith in show the same kind of commitment in order for Lennon to become a legend as a manager as well as a player of this proud football club.
So what do you think? Will Lennon be given the chance to turn things round? Do you think he is still cut out for the job? Leave a comment and let us know your views.