Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Lesson in Lennonism

Has Kevin Thomson realised that the nonsense he helped create around Hibs last week was over the top?

After the ridicule he found heaped on him following his farcical Daily Record ‘column’ last Tuesday, today he was in a more conciliatory mood.

No mention of his mummy and his yearning to free her from the chains of wage slavery.

Rather positive talk about winning silverware and fighting for second place. Even some well placed displays of his Hibee credentials – and his distaste for Hearts.

If this really is a sudden change of heart the reason behind it might well be hidden later in the column. Thomson’s half hearted protest about his disappointment with Neil Lennon for trying to get Scott Brown sent off can’t conceal the nagging admiration he must feel for the Celtic captain.

Lennon is much maligned by fans up and down the country. Often the criticism is fair. And as Hibs battered Celtic for much of the match Lennon must have wondered why he still puts his body through 90 minutes week after week.

More than once Guillame Beuzelin made Lennon look as lumbering and dimwitted as a carthorse approaching the knacker’s yard.

But from somewhere Lennon found the strength to orchestrate the comeback. Referee Mike McCurry will not be proud of the way he allowed the Irishman to dominate him in the second half.

Thomson thought Lennon looked “beaten” when Hibs went two up. Lennon doesn’t know the meaning of word. With Beuzelin and Ivan Sproule tiring Hibs needed the pace and work rate of that other, allegedly, want-away Hibee Scott Brown.

Lennon sucked Brown into a personal dual – which they were both lucky didn’t result in red cards – and the young midfielder was duly posted missing.

Thomson too, trying to play the captain’s role for which he is not yet ready, spent too much energy trying to placate Brown. Lennon and Evander Sno duly took over the midfield.

He didn’t score but it was Lennon that hauled Celtic back into this match. If he wonders why he often doesn’t get credit for contributions like that he need look no further than the way he taunted Brown after Celtic’s equaliser.

Neil Lennon is not a man many people could claim to like as a footballer. Much of his game is psychological. It’s ugly. But he gets away with it and it gets his team results.

Physically and mentally he has a strength that Kevin Thomson and Scott Brown lack. They’re more likely to discover that strength learning in the heat of the SPL with a wonderfully talented Hibs side than toiling with their old mates Derek Riordan and Ian Murray in the reserves at Parkhead or Ibrox.

Maybe Kevin Thomson has realised that in time to pull back from the brink.