WHATEVER happened to “Lennyball”? This time last week many in Scottish football, or those of a Celtic persuasion at least, were raving about the brand of football the Northern Irishman’s team was producing. They had just rattled in 12 goals in their opening two Ladbrokes Premiership matches and were being lavished with praise for their exciting attacking style of play. Hell, it even got its own name.

Now? Just seven days on and everything has turned full circle. Lennon must go! He clearly isn’t up to the task! He’s tactically naïve! He should never have been appointed in the first place! And the board should follow him out the exit door at Parkhead!

The 4-3 defeat to CFR Cluj of Romania in the East End last Tuesday evening was certainly bad. The failure to qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds for the second straight season was costly financially too. The fact Celtic needed extra-time to beat second tier Dunfermline at home in their last 16 Betfred Cup tie on Saturday was also poor.

Still, the over-the-top reaction to their last two performances and results underlined what Walter Smith always said about the intense demands of being in charge at one of the two big Glasgow clubs. Namely, that you are only ever two games away from a crisis.

The response to the laboured win over their East End Park rivals at the weekend was extreme and entirely predictable. “Absolutely embarrassing today,” one incensed fan ranted to Radio 5 Live. “There was no shape, no passion, nothing at all. It’s been a mistake to appoint Lennon. I would sack him now.”

That tirade drew a one word reply from Chris Sutton. “Idiot,” is how the outspoken pundit, who, of course, played alongside Lennon for years, dismissed it.

Peter Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive, inset, and his fellow directors are likely to take exactly the same view of the frothing hordes who suddenly have the manager in their sights after one loss.

A big fortnight lies ahead for Lennon. If his charges show the same defensive frailties against AIK Stockholm in the Europa League play-off and fail to prevail in that double header the pressure on him will increase immensely. Then there is the not so small matter of a league game against Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday week. Lose that and the calls for his head will become deafening.

Not, though, in the confines of the boardroom at Celtic Park. The Celtic manager unquestionably made mistakes against Cluj. Playing Callum McGregor at left back didn’t work. The team looked uncomfortable with their new set-up. The backline was cut open too easily and too often. But there were mitigating circumstances.

The situation that Lennon has inherited when he was given the job full-time immediately after the William Hill Scottish Cup final win over Hearts at Hampden back in May was, despite the wealth of talent he has at his disposal and the budget he has to spend, problematic.

He lost both of his first choice full-backs, Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney, as well as his regular centre backs, Filip Benkovic and Dedryck Boyata. He has, then, had to rebuild his defence in one transfer window. That is not a straightforward project and remains, as the pursuit of Rosenborg left back Birger Meling and interest in Lech Poznan right back Robert Gumny shows, very much a work in progress.

Just having a part-time head of recruitment, who was only brought in at the start of July, will unquestionably not have helped matters.

There will be an appreciation among Lennon’s paymasters, if not in the stands, about the conditions that he has had to work in, an acceptance that they are as much to blame for the current shortcomings in the team at European level as the man who occupies the dugout and a determination to do better going forward.

Already there are plans, as Lennon revealed at his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of the Dunfermline game, to revamp the entire scouting network. That should ensure improved recruitment in future. It is long overdue.

Lennon is by no means guaranteed to keep his job. Any repeat of the Cluj display and any further failures and his position will become more precarious. Should the triple treble winners fail to make the Europa League, slip up in the Premiership or go out of the Betfred Cup he will lose the backing of more of the paying customers who file through the turnstiles. It is the nature of his profession. The tenures of managers are getting shorter and shorter in this social media age.

Celtic were well beaten in both of their away games against Rangers in the 2018/19 campaign. With just a few hundred of their supporters to cheer them on in a packed stadium their chances of success are limited. Returning to Govan to face rivals whose form has been impressive both home and abroad so far this term must be a worrying prospect just now.

But Lennon is just one cog, albeit an important one, in a very big machine. When he fails to do his job properly then that is reflected in results. But many others have vital roles to fulfil and must accept some responsibility.

Celtic can ill-afford to be in a position where they rushing to cobble together a new team in time for the Champions League qualifiers at the beginning of July when they can bank in excess of £30 million for reaching the group stages.

Was it really a surprise when Benkovic, Boyata, Lustig and Tierney departed? Most sensible punters could see that coming. Some long-term thinking and forward planning is clearly required here. Along with a little loyalty to the manager. He has been through far worse before and can ride out the current storm.