Very few club figures have been able to get away with Celtic’s diabolical season. Neil Lennon has already paid the price while it’s perhaps driven Peter Lawwell to retirement too.
The boardroom figure will depart Parkhead in the summer and with it, he will leave behind a number of mistakes; one of which was ensuring that Lennon stayed for so long.
Celtic are on the verge of losing their grasp on the SPFL title to their biggest rivals and there are a number of reasons why.
On the field of play, the primary reason has been their defence. Individual errors have plagued their backline with the Bhoys conceding many more goals than Rangers in the league. They also shipped a haul of 19 strikes in just six Europa League outings.
It has been a dismal campaign for a host of defenders, no less than the likes of Shane Duffy whose loan spell from Brighton has not gone according to plan. The Irishman has been littered with mistakes but so have the goalkeepers.
Vasilis Barkas was branded “awful” by Frank McAvennie for some of his mistakes, claiming the club’s recruitment needed to be looked at as a result. He cost £4.5m in the summer but has been shocking on a number of occasions. He conceded four against AC Milan and was especially poor for the opener, somehow letting a free-kick find the net on his side of the goal.
Scott Bain has arguably been no better. The stopper was another to have a horror show in Europe. When Celtic were battered and bruised by Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic, it was Bain who was at fault.
He let the ball roll across his six-yard box for the second goal and then for the fourth and final strike, the goalkeeper came racing out and failed to clear.
Youngster Conor Hazard has also had his difficulties. He was the hero in the Scottish Cup final back in December by saving a succession of penalties in the shoot-out. His performance in normal time, however, was shocking. He was bullied from a corner for Hearts’ second and then for their third, he came out and failed to punch; an action that led to a simple concession.
It’s been difficult to find a solution between the sticks. Of course, losing Fraser Forster at the start of the term was a huge blow. Following his loan spell, he headed back to Southampton.
Though, they also lost another stopper in Craig Gordon. The 38-year-old was offered a new deal but would have to have taken a significant pay cut in order to stay in Glasgow.
Instead, he moved to Edinburgh to play for Hearts. He was second fiddle last season but was unquestionably better than all three of Celtic’s current options between the sticks. He has proven Peter Lawwell wrong in the last few months, demonstrating why he should have been offered far greater terms to stay.
You only need to look at words from Steven Naismith for evidence. Speaking earlier this season, the Hearts forward noted: “I said when we got him that he would be the best signing we’ve made by a country mile, just for his pure quality.”
Naismith added: “He’s worth eight points a season on his own. He’s won us this semi-final – with having him in the goal we’re in the final. He played a bigger part than anybody else.”
Gordon exudes confidence and has made Hearts a better side. He has won games on his own for the Jam Tarts, something Celtic could have unquestionably benefited from this season.
After all, their goalkeeper’s have lost the Hoops a number of matches in 2020/21 alone.