Well, I couldn’t imagine it until the events of this season unfolded for Celtic manager Neil Lennon. If I was Neil Lennon, I know I would be seriously considering if football really was worth it.
During Celtic’s 3-0 win at Hearts on Wednesday evening a fan ran from the Hearts section of the crowd, ran along the touchline and attacked Lennon as he stood in his technical area. He managed to strike the Celtic boss before being bundled to the gtround by stewards and police. Lennon was shocked but unhurt by the incident.
Such an incident would be serious for any manager but for Neil Lennon it is the latest in a string of serious incidents.
Death threats have become the norm for Lennon. In January, a letter was sent to him containing bullets. Even more seriously, three parcel bombs addressed to Lennon have also been intercepted. It beggars belief that it is a football manager we are talking about, but that is what Neil Lennon is. A football manager, nothing more and nothing less.
So Lennon has been sent bullets and bombs and now been attacked on the side of the pitch. He must surely be wondering whether it is worth it. You wouldn’t think so from the message he posted on his twitter page.
“Don’t let what happened to me tonight take the shine off a wonderful team performance.”
Lennon’s assistant Johan Mjallby has spoken about how he would not be surprised if Lennon did walk away.
“He is a strong character, he has coped with much. The backroom staff are desperate for him to continue but no-one could blame him if he decided not to. I would never blame him whatever he does. I’m shocked and Neil must be even more afraid. What if the supporter had something in his hand? But it is too early to say how Neil will react. I am shocked myself, I see it on television all over the world but I haven’t seen it myself. We all have to look into this, a manager should be secure inside a football ground.”
Hearts manager Jim Jefferies also feels that enough might be enough for Lennon.
“For what he has had to contend with, I wouldn’t blame him for walking away.”
SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster expressed his concerns over the incident.
“We had a delegate at the game who will be giving us a detailed report on the incident. We will also be taking reports from the police and talking to both of the clubs. Clearly, this is something which needs to be investigated thoroughly and with urgency. That’s exactly what will happen. The incident was disgraceful and wholly unacceptable.”
Lennon even got support from the ‘old enemy’ Rangers. A series of heated games have taken place between the two clubs this season and Rangers lead Celtic by just a point heading into the last games of the season. There could hardly be more animosity between the two clubs but Rangers chief executive Martin Bain said,
“All of us at Rangers Football Club condemn out of hand the attack on the Celtic manager. There is no place in football for this kind of behaviour.”
When I’m telling people how important football is and they use that horrible phrase, ‘it’s only a game,’ I tend to get very cross and try to explain why it is so much more than that. However, with this type of thing going on I am really tempted to join the ‘it’s only a game’ brigade. It can never be important enough for a manager to go through what Neil Lennon has faced this season.
I truly hope that Lennon stays at Celtic and shows the cowards, bullies and idiots that are trying to force him out that they are wrong, pathetic and stupid. Having said that, I wouldn’t blame him if he just walks away.
The majority of people in football totally condemn the actions of this scumbag at Hearts. There were over 16,500 people at the ground, all full of emotion, and there was just one person who did what he did. The silent majority have got to get together to stop the morons from destroying the game.
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