Look at Celtic’s season and you will notice a whole host of issues. The first, of course, is their performances on the field.
To put things simply, the Hoops have been diabolical. They are 23 points behind Rangers and any chance of securing a tenth title in a row have surely disappeared.
A big reason behind that has not only been Neil Lennon’s management but also his defence. Celtic have conceded 13 more goals than Steven Gerrard’s men, while they also let in a massive haul of 19 strikes during their Europa League campaign.
There is another issue deeper beneath the surface though. Even with the Bhoys in such a rut, their young players are finding it difficult to earn first-team opportunities.
Had 13 players not had to self isolate at the beginning of the year then Cameron Harper and Karamoko Dembele would still be awaiting their first opportunities of the campaign. Attacking midfielder Ewan Henderson would not have been given a chance either.
Lennon seemingly doesn’t like utilising the young players and because of their lack of game time, some of them are now on the verge of leaving. Dembele’s contract expires at the end of the season and with Harper facing the same eventuality, he is set to sign for the New York Red Bulls.
For the striker to conclude that he’d be better off developing his career in the United States should be an insult to Hoops supporters. Though, who can blame him for wanting to return home? He has made just one senior outing in the famous green and white.
Clearly, he is not going to breakthrough any time soon.
If Lennon does indeed get the sack, then one manager could help solve that problem. That happens to be Frank Lampard. Pat Nevin talked up his credentials for the job last week and it was his work with young players at Chelsea that earned him the most praise.
Speaking about Lampard during his first season in the hot seat at Stamford Bridge, former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers said: “I have been really impressed watching the team. Okay, they have lost their first couple of games but the tempo of their game is good. They are obviously going to play at a higher intensity and tempo in their game.”
“Frank understands the policy at the club, how it works and will be looking to bring in some of the young players which he has done. He has given them an opportunity. You have to admire that.”
Lampard had to endure a transfer ban in his first campaign with the Blues and as a result, he brought through the likes of Tammy Abraham, Billy Gilmour, Reece James, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.
At one stage last season, Lampard fielded an XI of players with an average age of just 24.3 – a statistic that ended up being the fourth most inexperienced side of the whole Premier League campaign.
On top of that, the 42-year-old utilised only four players over the age of 30; Olivier Giroud, Pedro, Willian and goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
Clearly, the way Lampard sets his stall out would be beneficial for Celtic’s youth players. The Bhoys may have fielded a squad with the average age of 24.2 at one point this term but that was made up predominantly of young players they’d signed – rather than academy players.
With individuals like Harper and Dembele looking likely to leave, Celtic really need to start putting more onus on those below first-team level.
Hiring a manager like Lampard would undoubtedly improve that problem.