Could Scottish Cup Final Defeat Mark the End of Neil Lennon’s Second Stint at Celtic?

It’s fair to say that things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Neil Lennon at Celtic Park so far this season. The Hoops’ loyal fanbase would have been hoping that their side would be well on track for 10 league titles in a row by now. However, it is quite the opposite. Instead it is the blue half of Glasgow who are flying high at the top of the Scottish Premiership table.

Steven Gerrard’s Rangers are 11 points clear of Celtic at the top of the standings. However, Lennon’s side do have the opportunity to cut that lead to just five points. Should they win their two games in hand over the Gers that is.

But, for Celtic, their anguish in the league is just the beginning of this season’s torrid tale. It was confirmed on week four of the Europa League group stages that the Hoops wouldn’t be progressing to the latter stage of the European tournament, as they sat bottom of the group with just a single point.

However, at the end of November, things went from bad to worse for Celtic. Ross County came to Glasgow for a League Cup encounter, and it was another dismal day for Lennon’s men as the Staggies ran out 2-0 winners. Which unfortunately ended the Hoops’ hopes of winning the tournament for a fifth year in a row.

Bad to Worse for the Celtic

There is now immense pressure on the Northern Irish manager, who has won nine trophies with Celtic across two stints in charge of the club. His side has lost on four successive occasions at Celtic Park for the first time since 1958, and with just two wins in their last 10 encounters the fanbase have started to make their feelings clear.

Hundreds of Hoops supporters gathered outside the stadium in protest, which at times got a bit heated, as Celtic failed to beat Ross County. The staff and players needed to be escorted by police in and out of the venue.

Afterwards, Lennon, who after back-to-back 4-1 defeats to Sparta Prague in the Europa League claimed he had the full backing of the club’s hierarchy. He conceded that his team ‘are in a bad moment’.

What Does Lennon Have to Say About This?

“We are in a bad moment,” Lennon said. “It’s not a question of coming out and criticizing the players because they are all in it together.

“I thought the atmosphere before the game was excellent. I thought the body language was good, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. Sometimes, on a run like this, your legs feel a bit heavier, your thinking is not too clear.

“We are more or less the same squad who were rampant last year, and they have not been in any consistent vein of form. We are not playing anywhere near as well as we can and that’s on me.

“There’s a lot of soul-searching for me and my staff. I don’t want to put too much on the players because they are devastated in there.”

However, things could get a lot worse for Lennon and his men. Later this month (December 20th) they will take on Championship outfit Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Cup final, which is actually the conclusion of last year’s tournament, and with the way things are going, a defeat to Hearts would definitely be the end of the former Celtic midfielder’s second stint in charge of the club.

A Look Ahead

The Jambos, who are the underdogs in the Scottish FA Cup odds from Paddy Power, will be confident heading into the final given their fast start to their league campaign and a semi-final win over Edinburgh rivals Hibernian, plus given the strengths within their ranks, they will fancy their chances against a deflated Celtic.

Lennon needs to change his side’s fortunes if he wants to not only save his job but get their season back on track. However, if things keep going the way they currently are, and with the news that the Celtic boss is set for crunch talks with the club’s chiefs, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Lennon is axed by the New Year. 

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