This time three years ago, Celtic were in a full-blown crisis, both on and off the field of play.

Playing behind closed doors during a worldwide pandemic, the club – managed by Neil Lennon, more on him later – were stumbling every other week, allowing Steven Gerrard’s Rangers to cruise towards the title effectively unopposed.  The scars of that season still sting a large portion of the support, who were desperate for ’10 in a row’ to become a reality. We all know how it ended, of course, but it has made many of those who follow the club more vigilant and switched on concerning how the club is functioning as a whole.

Thankfully, the world is in a better place than back in 2020, though Celtic find themselves at a similar point to those dark days with regard to on-field matters. The club have lost their last two Premiership games to Kilmarnock and Hearts respectively, with last Saturday’s game at Celtic Park against the Edinburgh side easily the low point of what has been a mixed season thus far under the returning Brendan Rodgers.

Indeed, the results of late have caught up with the performances that have been almost commonplace this season, with the team coasting through many games this campaign rather than winning with the style and finesse that was on display under Ange Postecoglou this time last year.

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However, this feeling of worry and trepidation is not an entirely universal one, as two legends of the club have come out in recent days to downplay the concerns of the wider support. First was the aforementioned Lennon, who is no stranger to the Scottish mainstream media for a soundbite or two.

On a recent panel show, Lennon spoke about the current fortunes of the team at present, almost dismissing the notion of unrest at the club. He said to PLZ: “I don't think there's any need to panic.

"I heard there was some dissent towards the board, which I don't understand because they've just won a Treble last year. Since Dermot's (Desmond) came in it's been total domination for 20 odd years; six Trebles, Europa Leagues, three last 16s, I could go on.

“Sometimes you've got to be careful what you wish for.”

These comments were almost echoed by another former midfielder in the shape of Paul Lambert, who laughed off any suggestions of any ‘trouble in Paradise’ at the moment. He said to The Herald: “Celtic have had unbelievable success in the last 10 or 11 years, and they are just having a little blip.

“They are still sitting top of the league. If that is a crisis, then I wouldn’t mind having a crisis like that. It’s the Glasgow madness I guess. Celtic will be totally fine. They have had over a decade of sheer dominance, and because they have one or two wee ropey spells, then people think it’s a crisis.

“It’s not, it’s only because of the Glasgow madness that it is framed like that.”

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These voices of support from legends of Celtic’s past may have had the desired effect a few years back, but the situation is different thanks to events that followed in 2020/21. The warning signs have been there for all to see this season, even before Philippe Clement steadied and stabilised a sinking Rangers ship across the city.

An early League Cup exit to Kilmarnock and dropped points against St Johnstone at home indicated a weak underbelly to this current Celtic side, whilst late winners against Motherwell and St Mirren masked uninspiring performances against domestic opposition. Whilst there have been good performances littered this season domestically – games against Rangers and Aberdeen immediately spring to mind – there has been cause for concern in general with the overall level at which the team has been operating during this campaign.

You see, Lennon and Lambert’s comments point to a sudden drop in form, when in reality Celtic have been misfiring for most of the season but getting away with it results-wise, not unlike the doomed season of 2020/21 under the former. Similar soundbites from that season found themselves in the public domain from the likes of Lambert, John Hartson and others, though many could see the writing on the wall when the performances started to nosedive.

As mentioned before, the scars of that fateful season mentioned are deep, with the club undergoing an extensive rebuild afterwards due to the many shortcomings experienced in that period.

One of the areas rebuilt was in recruitment, thanks to the dismal couple of windows Celtic experienced during that season. After all, who can forget the high-profile missteps of Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas, Shane Duffy and Jonjoe Kenny? At this stage, the likes of Gustaf Lagerbielke, Kwon Hyeok-kyu, Marco Tilio and Nat Phillips are certainly giving the class of 2020 a run for their money, though perhaps not at the same level, given the amount spent on their predecessors.

When you look at both respective seasons, you begin to see some of the similarities between the two. The important thing to consider is that Celtic still have time to turn things around, despite the current situation looking bleak at present. Still, those of a Celtic persuasion have every right to be concerned with the current plight of the club on the park, thanks to the track record of those running it off the pitch. They are well within their right and entitled to do so.

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Many cannot shake the rumour that this downturn has coincided with Peter Lawwell’s return to the club, as well as the employment of his son as the Head of Scouting from his previous role at the City Football Group. After all, his retirement as chief executive was for many a necessary step in a new direction for the club, which made his return as chairman all the more frustrating after the departure of fellow Celtic custodian Ian Bankier, whose place in the boardroom he assumed.

Regardless of any problems concerning scouting or the hierarchy as a whole, Celtic MUST get back to winning ways on Saturday against David Martindale’s struggling Livingston. As much as Rodgers can grumble about the lack of ‘quality’ players brought to the club in the summer window, he must work with the tools that he has been given, at least until next month.

One thing is certain for everyone associated with the club, and that is that recent history cannot be afforded to repeat itself once again. Time will tell if that will indeed be the case in the coming weeks and months.