Neil Lennon says awards nominees wouldn’t get into one of his teams.
Simply saying you aren’t having a go at someone doesn’t make it so.
Neil Lennon added the proviso when insisting none of the candidates for the Players’ Player of the Year would make it into one of his teams.
The Celtic manager was clearly irked that his players were noticeable by their absence from the shortlist of four.
But to make that statement was an insult to Leigh Griffiths, Michael Higdon, Andrew Shinnie and Niall McGinn.
I don’t believe it is a fair assessment and I don’t believe it’s true.
When Celtic lost to Hibs at Easter Road at the end of December, they failed to score.
Griffiths, who has been exceptional this term playing for a team that has struggled and is great at creating his own opportunities, did.
Had he had been an available option for Lennon that day, or in any other game in which they had struggled, I am sure he would have given him a run-out.
I think it is a similar story with Higdon, who can’t stop scoring for Motherwell right now.
Sure, you might choose Gary Hooper ahead of him. But if things didn’t work out he would be a more than useful Plan B.
Lennon’s reaction was also disrespectful to the democratic process by which the shortlist was arrived at.
Everyone got to have their say. The fact the Celtic vote appears to have been split merely underlines that they didn’t have one outstanding candidate.
A Team of the Season will be announced at the PFA Scotland’s annual dinner. It would surprise no-one were it to include several Celts.
For anyone to suggest the vote which caused all the furore was any kind of a conspiracy is ludicrous.
Consider the list of previous winners: 2005 John Hartson and Fernando Ricksen (jointly), 2006 Shaun Maloney, 2007 Shunsuke Nakamura, 2008 Aiden McGeady, 2009 Scott Brown, 2010 Steven Davis, 2011 Emilio Izaguirre and 2012 Charlie Mulgrew.
Some familiar sounding names there? Yes, in eight of the last nine seasons the awards have gone to Celtic players.
I don’t have an issue with that.
The players made their choice and you respect the decision.
In 1978-79 the Scottish Football Writers Association gave their award to Andy Ritchie of Morton.
At the time, I was playing for a very good Rangers side that nearly won the Treble.
We certainly believed we had some contenders that year but the majority of our peers decided otherwise. That was fine.
In the end, the Celtic manager’s complaints may actually say more about how he is feeling right now than the issue itself.
Clearly, he’s desperate to make sure his players don’t mentally pack their bags for their holidays before the Scottish Cup Final on May 26. hat makes sense because it is an important game for Neil Lennon. Win and they have had an excellent season.
Lose and a campaign will finish on a marked low.
With Champions League qualifiers coming up at the start of the season, that is a situation he can’t afford.