Friday 24 November 2017

Lennon's short-term plan fuels club's long-term vision

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Ewing Grahame

CELTIC'S signing policy for the past 13 years has been nothing if not consistent – buy young players cheaply, nurture them and then sell them on at a profit.

When it works – as it did with Victor Wanyama, Ki Sung-yueng and Gary Hooper, on whom the club turned a profit of £19m – it tends to work spectacularly. However, when it founders, the consequences are just as visible and can leave the club with players with no sell-on value who are earning relatively high wages.

Manager Neil Lennon, who had then to be confirmed as the successor to Tony Mowbray, famously spoke out against the dangers of buying potential following the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Ross County in 2010.

"See projects, lads? Forget it," he said. "I'm f*****g sick of hearing it. I'm sick of hearing about two and three-year plans. I don't buy into it. You don't have time at Celtic or Rangers. You've got to get results straight away.

"Projects are something my daughter does at school. I don't care about two years' time – I might not bloody be here."

Asked yesterday whether he had revised his opinion regarding that approach, the Northern Irishman was, as always, honest and to the point.

"I can't come in and say I've got a four-year plan," he said. "I don't, because you don't know how long you are going to be in the job for. I don't believe in projects in the game.

"Players are, maybe, different. When you are looking at a younger player you can bring in and develop, then maybe sell him on. That doesn't always work either. We've done OK in that aspect in the last couple of years, though, and we'll continue to do that.

"In terms of me having an ideological vision for where I want to take Celtic ... I don't. I just want us to be as successful as we can and keep improving. I think that's where we are.

"It's different for the board – they've got five-year business plans and I've got to work within that. For me, it is always short-term – unless I'm getting a five or 10-year contract, but that's very rare in the game these days."

Lennon, meanwhile has rebuffed Rangers captain Lee McCulloch's claim that the gap between the Premiership and League One is marginal.

Ahead of Celtic's trip to Hibernian tomorrow, when new midfield signing Stefan Johansen could make his debut, the Celtic manager responded: "I can't really draw a comparison between the two because I have never worked or played consistently at that level. But I would imagine the majority of the football people in the country would disagree with that point of view."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)



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