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Richard Gordon column: Sad end to Neil Lennon’s long association with Celtic as Aberdeen look to string results together

Neil Lennon.
Neil Lennon.

The eventual departure of Neil Lennon from Celtic came as no real surprise this week and it is a sad end to what has been a remarkable career with the club.

The Holy Grail of ‘Ten In A Row’ was always going to claim a victim, either Neil or his opposite number across the city, and with Rangers romping to the title under Steven Gerrard, the timing was probably right.

It has been a hugely disappointing campaign for the fallen champions, but Lennon’s legendary status should not in any way be tarnished; he has been a magnificent servant over the years and deserves utmost credit for his achievements.

Few people could have come through some of the horrible times he has experienced off the park and remain as strong as he did, and, having stepped into the breach following the exit of Brendan Rodgers, Neil stabilised the club and maintained their domestic dominance.

This season has been a step too far.

A combination of poor recruitment and underperforming players saw Celtic fall behind their rivals, and with mistakes also being made in the running of the club, it soon became apparent that their recent glorious era was coming to an end, and that the parting of the ways was inevitable.

Lennon will be frustrated, bitterly disappointed at how things have turned out, but, on a purely human level, stepping away was the correct thing to do and the pressures which have been clearly evident during interviews will soon begin to ease.

Ross County striker Jordan White heads home the winner against Celtic last Sunday.

The casualty rate in the Premiership has been inordinately high this season. Neil became the fifth manager out of twelve to vacate his position during the course of the campaign, and when you factor in that Mickey Mellon and Callum Davidson were both new to their jobs, more than half the clubs are under different management than they were nine months ago.

Like Lennon, Derek McInnes has had to face up to more criticism than at any time previously during his eight-year spell as Aberdeen manager.

Ex-Celtic manager Neil Lennon (left) with Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

As he has said on numerous occasions, that is to be expected when you have one of the top jobs in the country and things aren’t going to plan, and he has handled the line of questioning well.

Luck has not been on his side this season, the Fraser Hornby injury being the latest in a long line of blows, but that comes with the territory, and the best managers simply have to roll with the punches and adapt to what is thrown at them, as Derek has done for the most part while at Pittodrie.

He will know, however, that the last couple of months of the campaign are crucial to the club and his own ambitions, and, with the Dons now four points behind Hibernian having played a game more, he is going to have to hope last week’s much-needed win over Kilmarnock acts as a catalyst.

Callum Hendry’s towering header at least brought an end to the team’s depressing run, but it promises to be a challenging end to the season, and the players are going to have to find a level of consistency which has been missing for months.

If they do, there may yet be something salvaged from what has so far been an unacceptable campaign.

Callum Hendry heads in Aberdeen’s first goal in seven games.

Let’s hope it’s not too long before John Robertson is back in Caley Thistle dugout

All the clubs in the SPFL have had a demanding season, but Caley Thistle have perhaps suffered more than most thanks to a combination of Covid and the winter weather, and their campaign worsened further with the news about John Robertson.

The wee man has had a tough time but, typical of him, was trying to battle through it and continue to lead his team.

Caley Thistle boss John Robertson.

Even he had to finally admit enough was enough and everyone at the Caley Stadium will be supporting him all the way.

Robbo is one of the game’s good guys, I genuinely cannot remember anyone ever saying a bad word about him. He has boundless enthusiasm and is fully committed to whichever job he’s in.

Taking a step back for now might be no bad thing, but I hope, after his layoff, it’s not too long before he’s back in the dugout doing what he does best. In the meantime, Neil McCann will be a more than adequate replacement.

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