In October 2011, during his debut season with Celtic, Neil Lennon Escape from rugby park on the right end, if something like that, with a 3-3 draw.
A lot has happened in the nine years that followed.
In fact, had it not been for that Anthony Stokes double and a late draw from Charlie Mulgrew, Lennon might not have been close to Pettodrey yesterday, when he found himself at the wrong end of the exact same result, and he knows perfectly well well, it could have been worse.
On that day in Ayrshire, Lennon’s job was at stake. Nine titles later considering the extraordinary journeys both of them have made Celtic And their manager during that time, it’s startling to think of right-back Lennon where he started, having a battle to prove he should hold the position in the first place.
Do not be in doubt. The clamor that started to head after his side’s heartbreaking performance in Old Firm defeat will only pick up after this troubling and faultless performance in Aberdeen.
If the old adage is true – that Celtic is only three defeats from a full-blown crisis, Lennon might have thought he had escaped one crisis yesterday.
But he didn’t. Celtic’s failure to get all three points, having come twice from behind to snatch a 3–2 lead, may add to the anxiety of a support already teetering on the brink of eye-popping hysteria.
Unfortunately for Lennon, he did little to calm the mood with the decisions he made or about the performance that managed to get his players out.
The biggest problem they face right now is the lack of strategy or coherence about what Celtic is really trying to achieve on the field. To add to this, their disorientation comes at a time when Rangers across town rarely seem so hyper-focused and dangerously attuned.
For example, Lennon felt his team were in control of the first half yesterday, but the fact of the matter is that even though they had a lot of ball, they didn’t do much substance with it. The more you see this team, the more obvious it becomes that it is overly dependent on the people within it.
It depends on moments of magic such as the move started by Callum McGregor and ended shortly after the first half to rescind Louis Ferguson’s penalty and tie the match 1-1.
And it was at its best between February and March of this year when Lee Griffiths and Edward Oudson were putting on another level than any other players in the country.
NotificationsOn the contrary, it all revolves around the sum of the collective parts.
Yesterday, for example, Steven Gerrard was able to switch half of his players on the field and still score a comfortable home win over Livingston to score six points at the top of the table, without missing a move.
While Gerrard appears to be stable in what he is asking of these players, Lennon goes yesterday
It looks like he was holding a straw.
By sending the same Stadium 10 that ended Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Milan, Lennon was also tearing up the squad he had been stubbornly sticking to for the past few months.
And there was no indication whatsoever that a return to a more traditional defensive foursome would make Shane Duffy or Christopher a more reliable or powerful wage.
The husband was everywhere yesterday Aberdeen He advanced twice and then came back from the dead to score the third goal in stoppage time.
If anything, this decision to go with two midfield defenders only made Scott Brown’s absence even more difficult to understand.
If they ever needed the shield their master provided, it was definitely when they were managing one man.
Instead, Lennon threw Bruni with bathwater by choosing to leave his captain on the seat. Put it this way, had Brown been patrolling his usual territory, it was very likely there was no need for Olivier Necham to return to his own box and relinquish the first two penalties from Aberdeen.
Brown and Griffiths were sent in in the 69th minute, and by that time Celtic was already running behind again after Scott Wright picked Daffy his pocket and forgot the wages of how he defended his six-yard box against Sam Cosgrove, whose shot was saved by Scott Pine. But it was assembled at home by Ryan Hedges.
The Griffiths came with another one of those inspiring Celtic-level shooting moments of just over five minutes. With the Dunes reeling from that response, they then conceded a penalty kick from their side, which was taken by Ryan Christie.
At that moment, Lennon’s mind might have already started drifting to that day in Rugby Park because this dramatic transformation had the same feel.
After he was taken to the brink of the abyss, his players retracted him in time. Take a deep breath, sweep the brow, and go ahead. No major damage was done.
Which is exactly why this time it felt like it was at the wrong end in a 3-3 draw, after Ferguson struck the net from the penalty spot after a disastrously more messy defense.
Only when he thought he had been pulled from a hole was he thrown straight into the hole. It would be a long climb to the light from here.
You shouldn’t just start in France against Lille on Thursday when they defeat the eighth consecutive group for the second time
The European campaign gets off to the worst possible start.
But at the end of this week, when Celtic and Aberdeen were back in the semi-finals of last season’s Scottish Cup, they were back here and now Rangers can open up a nine-point gap at the top of the table.
Which means Lennon may be a winner at Hampden on Sunday and still feel a big score has gone against him for this historically significant season.
With trips to Fir Park and Easter Road coming before the end of the month, it doesn’t seem like things aren’t tough enough already.
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