Words by Neil Boardman
Everyone absolutely hates Neil Lennon, don’t they? He’s a little bastard, he’s cocky and he will tell anyone, and everyone, exactly what he thinks about them. But that is the exact reason why I am a Neil Lennon fan.
As much as we all love seeing Lionel Messi pull off the unthinkable, a fluid counter attack ending in a wonderful, composed finish and the next international star rising through the ranks of Jong Ajax. There is a different side to our love of the beautiful game. We all love a little bit of shithousery. And, as much as you don’t want to admit it, no one quite does it like Neil Lennon.
No matter where Lennon is basing himself, at that moment, he can’t help himself. He has to cause a stir. To be honest, if you want to criticise this piece i will do it for you, it’s not always good. Personal issues have affected Lennon’s career from the offset and allegations of misconduct have followed him wherever he goes.
Despite this, there is still a hole, to be filled, when it comes to celebrating Neil Lennon. More or less every media outlet around has published some kind of story condemning Lennon on his behaviour; yet, celebrations of Lennon are hard to come across. In order to take Lennon for what he is, you have to understand him beyond what the Sun or Daily Mail are portraying him as.
Lennon recently made his Celtic managerial comeback away at Hearts. An Odsonne Edouard last gasp winner sealed the 2-1 victory for the hoops. In a similar fashion, just a couple of weeks later, the bhoys sealed victory in the dying seconds away at Dundee. Lennon, had his celebrations ridiculed in the media. Touchline celebrations with the fans, gloating in front of the opposition – it is the Neil Lennon way. Yet, I log on to twitter and all that appears on the timeline and the ‘Neil Lennon’ trend is people moaning. Lads with a union jack in their bios, calling him a disgrace.
But why? Why should a manager be slated day after day for his passion in the technical area? It’s not just the shithousery of Neil Lennon that makes me appreciate the guy, I believe that a manager of his manner can be an ingredient for a successful club, in many cases.
The passion showed by Neil Lennon on the side of the pitch can only be compared to the passion that is shown in the stands.
No matter who your club is, or what your sport is – nothing, absolutely nothing, beats that feeling of a last minute winner. You’re watching your club at a meaningless mid table clash at the back end of the season, your position isn’t changing no matter what the outcome is, but then after a long, goalless 89 minutes the ball falls to your man up top. By some miracle, it finds its way into the back of the net. You’re celebrating, aren’t you? You find yourself three rows away from your original seat. You’ve got no idea where your mates are and you’ve just given a 40 year old topless bloke a questionable embrace. Nothing beats it.
Now. Ask yourself. Would you like your manager to have remained in his technical area, same expression, with his notepad in hand? Or, would you like him to be in there with you, top off running down the touchline? If you’re telling the truth, it is the second of the two options.
Neil Lennon is an ambassador of going off the rails in celebration or giving it to his rivals abit too much. But isn’t that one of the things that makes football and sport so great? It is a release. Lennon is unique in the fact that we don’t have many managers in the world like him. I feel more like he is one of us than any other gaffer in the mainstream and, despite his flaws, he deserves a lot more credit for his managerial style, than he gets.
Ahead of this Sunday’s old firm derby, Lennon’s first derby back in the Celtic hot seat, I am not going to sit here and support whatever daft thing he is, inevitably, going to get involved with. However, I know, for a fact, that he will be getting involved in a way that I wish more football managers would. He is a nice change from what has become the norm for a football manager, it’s nice to see (most of the time).