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  • Paul McTaggart

Believe Your Eyes

Yesterday's draw at Easter Road was the latest in this season's string of underwhelming, insipid showings that are coming to define the most anticipated domestic season in Celtic's history.


Scrolling through the Twitter post-mortem, it seems that yesterday was the final straw for many people who didn't already think that a change is drastically needed.


We all wish Neil Lennon's Celtic were battering everyone aside and romping towards a historic 10th League title in a row. No one wants this to be the scenario, but it is. Neil Lennon's place in Celtic history is firmly cemented, he is a legend in the purest sense of the word. 20 trophies as a player and a manager. And it goes without saying, he should not be personally abused by any Celtic supporter.


That's the disclaimers done.


The more patient among us have been telling us all season that our form was just a blip, just a bad run and that winning all those games playing so poorly at the start of the season was the sign of champions. In my opinion, you can trace back this malaise to the 26th of August. Celtic 1-2 Ferencvaros; another unacceptable Champions League qualifying exit to a team less than a tenth of Celtic's size, stature and resources. An exit in the same manner as to Cluj the previous season and not too dissimilar to Copenhagen in the last 32 of the Europa League.


In the 3 months since, we've been a team bereft of confidence, belief and most importantly, structure and identity. We've won 2 games in the last 8 in all competitions, 1 win in 4 in the Scottish Premiership.

Celtic's Last 8 Games in all Comps: L L D D W L W D

In the midst of this form, we've lost two games in a completely unforgivable manner not befitting of a Celtic team. The 0-2 derby defeat to Rangers is the weakest performance I've ever seen in a game of that magnitude. There is no excuse for losing in the manner that we did, certainly not in that fixture. Not injuries, not COVID, not lack of fans in the stadium - nothing. It was unacceptable.


Then there was Sparta Prague. Torn apart at home by a depleted side fielding their 3rd choice goalkeeper and with a 17 year-old kid in midfield. Defending in a manner that would be lamented at amateur level. And devoid of even a shred of belief that we could ever recover the situation.


As we discussed in the full-time reaction yesterday, I think it's time for the manager to go. The board, however, are trapped by their own lack of planning. The decision to give Neil Lennon the full-time job in the showers at Hampden in May 2019 was botched. To brag about not entertaining the thought of other options was negligent beyond belief.

But yet still some people will have you believe that everything's okay. That blind faith will turn this around. That last season's achievements somehow usurp what we're seeing unfold before our eyes this season. Last season means nothing in football, you can't dine out on yesterday's achievements - that's called complacency.


The catastrophic failures in big games began last season. Some of them were pulled from the fire by Fraser Forster. Others even Forster couldn't stop. October's defeat to Rangers was just the latest in a string of derbies where we've been played off the park. We won the title last season because we beat all the teams we should be beating and Rangers bottled crashed in hilarious fashion.


There is no evidence that I can see to justify the status quo continuing. The problem with that is the next 5 league games are the easiest fixtures you could imagine. Home to St. Johnstone, home to Kilmarnock, home to Ross County, away to Hamilton and home to Dundee Utd. So the board's inaction will kick the can down the road until the next massive collapse in a big game until they decide the manager's position is untenable. But where will be by then?


Beyond the 10, we are a club rapidly declining in Europe. 10 or no 10 by the end of May, the club is on the brink of an overhaul. A lot of players will be queuing up to leave and if the people with the power who direct the vision of the club have anything about them, there'll be an overhaul in the board room as well.


Believe your eyes. This is not a blip, it's not even just a bad run anymore. This is a team stumbling, sleepwalking through the biggest season in our domestic history devoid of direction and inspiration.


In need of a culture change, by the manager's own admission. Yesterday, he called the players lazy. Lazy and in need of a culture change in this season of all seasons? Those things are the manager's responsibility.


For a change in culture, we need a change in manager.


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