CELTIC have averaged a goal a game in the seven league games in which interim manager Neil Lennon has been in charge.

The team have had three goalless draws over the period, shedding six points in the process, and have relied on stoppage-time goals for victories over 10-man Hearts and relegation-threatened Dundee.

The champions, who face Kilmarnock at Parkhead on Saturday, are within touching distance on their eighth successive title, but even John Hartson has admitted the fashion in which his former team are heading for the silverware has not been too entrancing.

There have been three odd-goal victories – Hearts (2-1), Dundee (1-0) and Rangers (2-1) – and a 2-0 win over St Mirren in Paisley where a strike from substitute Ryan Christie five minutes from time added to Timothy Weah’s 14th-minute opener.

At least, that result was an improvement on the side’s earlier visit when, under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, they tamely limped to a scoreless stalemate following a first-half red card for Olivier Ntcham.

The former Welsh international striker is concerned there is no sign of the Hoops’ traditional swashbuckling style as they head for what the club hopes will be an unprecedented treble treble.

Hartson, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “Yes, Neil’s priority was to get Celtic to the Scottish Cup Final and to get us over the line in terms of an eighth league title in a row.

“He has achieved the first of those tasks in fine style, but the laboured fashion by which Celtic are going about clinching the league championship hasn’t been great to watch.

“There have now been three goalless draws in Celtic’s last six games and even some of the wins haven’t been too easy on the eye. Late goals were needed at Hearts, against 10-man Rangers and in a dismal game up in Dundee, too.

STOPPAGE-TIME WINNER…Odsonne Edouard strikes against Hearts at Tynecastle.

STOPPAGE-TIME WINNER…Odsonne Edouard does the business against Dundee at Dens Park.

“In saying all of that, I fully expect Celtic to clinch the title sooner rather than later, but they mustn’t allow complacency to creep in.

“I’ve been part of a Celtic side that lost a league title we thought we had sewn up and, while I don’t expect that to happen, the end of the season is becoming a little bit of an anti-climax.

“The prevailing thought has been that if Neil clinches yet another treble, which would be a magnificent achievement, by the way, then the job would be his. And I think that is right. But I just worry the perception of this Celtic team under his guidance is turning a little bit negative.

“A major reason for that is that there is no clarity about the future of the man in the dugout, and that goes for a great deal of the playing squad, too.

“Make no mistake, I think there is a big rebuilding job to do at Celtic this summer, with an injection of fresh blood sorely needed.

“There are many players who will move on, the likes of Dedryck Boyata, Jeremy Toljan, Filip Benkovic, Timothy Weah, Oliver Burke could all be away along with a few others, so it would be better for Celtic to have some clarity about who is going to be doing that job.”

The futures of defenders Mikael Lustig, Emilio Izaguirre and Cristian Gamboa are also unclear with the trio of full-backs all coming out of contract at the same time.

Veteran Dutch keeper Dorus De Vries, who has been on the subs’ bench in recent games with Craig Gordon ruled out with a knee injury, is also likely to be heading for the exit.

Whoever is in charge, it will be a summer of upheaval at the champions.



About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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