Kris Commons reckons yesterday’s team selection by Neil Lennon was a wake up call for the the entire Celtic squad after their pathetic performance against a makeshift Sparta Prague side last Thursday night.
That performance and 4-1 defeat opened the floodgates and the calls for Neil Lennon to be sacked were loud and clear from a sizeable proportion of the Celtic support. The Celtic manager has been in the game long enough to know that he was under pressure and really had to deliver at performance and a result at a very difficult away venue yesterday.
Both Shane Duffy and Odsonne Edouard failed to impress in the Europa League match and both dropped to the bench at Fir Park with Kris Ajer coming back into the side after missing a few games due to the groin injury picked up in Lille and summer signing Albian Ajeti leading the line.
Commons reckons that these changes signalled a “gloves are off” message to the squad and Neil Lennon was rewarded with an excellent performance as a 4-1 victory.
“After such a dreadful defeat to Sparta Prague in midweek, Celtic had absolutely no margin for error against Motherwell yesterday. In the context of what happened just three days previously, this was a massive result for the club and for Neil Lennon as manager,” Commons wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“They ended up running out emphatic winners at Fir Park, putting to bed any claims that Lennon had lost the dressing room. Trust me, you don’t go and win 4-1 away from home if the players aren’t still fully supportive of the manager and giving 100 per cent for him.
“Lennon made some huge calls with his team selection against Motherwell. To leave Shane Duffy and Odsonne Edouard on the bench sent out a clear message. In the fullness of time, we might look back on that decision as being the first step to changing the mood and culture at the club.
“To drop two of his marquee players for such a must-win game was a really gutsy call and, as the result showed, Lennon got it spot-on. To be honest, it probably wasn’t a difficult decision with Duffy. The big centre-half had another poor night against Sparta.
“Lennon indicated pre-match that he had a ‘duty of care’ to protect the player. He needed to take him out of the firing line and out of the spotlight. Duffy needs to use the international break to reset mentally and come back with the sort form he showed for Brighton in the Premier League. That’s why Celtic went all-out to get him.
“Dropping Duffy and Edouard shows the gloves are now off. It will be a huge wake-up call to the rest of the squad. It shows a ruthless streak within Lennon and that’s the sort of mentality he will now demand from his players moving forward.
“No player can now consider himself untouchable. Look at Scott Brown, even he’s been dropped and subbed off at times in recent weeks. You need leaders, warriors who you’d happily go into the trenches with. That’s the mentality Lennon is trying to create in the face of all the criticism from outside the club.
“Mohamed Elyounoussi ticks all the boxes in that respect. He took a lot of stick for being on his phone whilst sat in the stand against Sparta on Thursday. I actually felt some it was a bit unfair. Yeah, it didn’t look great, but it felt like Elyounoussi ended up being made the scapegoat for a poor team performance.
“But he bounced back in the best way possible against Motherwell yesterday and answered any questions about his commitment to Celtic. With (the)Rangersabsolutely battering Hamilton yesterday, Celtic need to kick on and settle into a rhythm after the international break.”