A CLEARLY dismayed Neil Lennon accused his Celtic players of letting him down in the error-strewn season that left the historic 10-in-a-row bid in tatters shortly after the turn of the year.

The Northern Irishman let fly with a blistering verbal volley following the 2-1 league loss to St Mirren at Parkhead on January 30 2021 – the last time the Hoops were defeated at home in domestic competition.

Ange Postecoglou’s men face the same Paisley opponents in the east end of Glasgow in their 5.30pm kick-off in the Scottish Cup fifth round tie tomorrow night.

The champions are favourites to earn a place in Monday’s quarter-final draw, but just over two years ago it was an entirely different story.

After the flop against St Mirren, then managed by Jim Goodwin who has just been scked by Aberdeen, the title holders were a monumental 23 points behind Steven Gerrard’s Govan team.

A bitterly disappointed Lennon didn’t pull his punches in an interview with BBC Scotland shortly after the final whistle.

Here is the extraordinary interview in full.

NO HIDING PLACE…Neil Lennon speaks to BBC Scotland before Celtic’s 2-2 draw with Livingston in West Lothian on January 20 – just 10 days before the 2-1 home loss to St Mirren.

BBC: What’s your assessment of that performance?

LENNON: “It’s a poor performance.

“We started the game well, conceded a poor goal from our point of view and then it took us a while to get our balance and our quality right.

“We get the equaliser and you’re thinking that should settle us for the rest of the game, but, again, we concede an awful goal.

“Then second-half, we dominated the game, but we lacked any genuine quality in the final pass or the finishing.

“We expect over the years for us to get a crescendo of pressure and wear teams down, that’s been missing this season for whatever reason.

“We had enough possession, we had enough chances, to at least get something out of the game, but I shouldn’t even be talking about getting something out of the game. We should be winning that game.”

BBC: This side looks like a shadow of the one that has dominated Scottish football for so long now. What do you put that down to?

LENNON: “It’s a very good question.

“They just look… it can’t be confidence. Because there’s no real pressure on them and there are no fans here.

“There’s a lack of belief or a lack of quality and they’ve got the quality they’ve proved that over the years.

“For whatever reason – and it’s not just individuals it’s collective – really poor goals defensively and offensively really not good enough.

“With the amount of the ball we had, even at the end, our final ball, free-kicks going into the goalkeeper’s hands. Just fading out.

“And that’s not like us at all. It’s been symptomatic of our season, I think.”

BBC: Has the pressure and demands of the season proven to be too much for some at this club?

LENNON: “I think so, yeah.

“I wouldn’t disagree with that. They’re human beings at the end of the day and maybe they’ve felt it more than others or maybe some don’t understand the monumental size of the achievement that could have been.

“There’s definitely been a disconnect from the team that ended before the lockdown and the one that started the season this year.”

BBC: I have spoken to you before about recruitment, Neil. Are there questions to be asked about guys like Barkas, Ajeti, Klimala and Duffy, guys that so far haven’t shown enough to be at this football club?

LENNON: “That’s your opinion.”

BBC: But do you think it’s been good enough? Have you got enough from these players? I looked at half-time and you took off Leigh Griffiths and you have two strikers on the bench that you don’t turn to and that’s got to surely back up what I have said?

LENNON: “I gave Albian Ajeti half-an-hour today. You could look at Leigh Griffiths and his contribution, as well.

“It’s not just about the players who have come in, it’s about some of the players who have been here for a while and just haven’t performed.”

BBC: Have they let you down? Do you feel let down by some of the players here?

LENNON: “Honest answer? Yes.”

BBC: What about your position, Neil? Do you still believe you are the man to lead this club because I think you will agree, what we have seen so far makes that hard to back up?

LENNON: “I agree, today’s a low point in terms of the performance and the result.

“It’s very difficult to assess that at the minute, but I’ll keep working away and trying my best with my coaches.

“But we need something back from some of the players, as well.”

BBC: Do you expect difficult conversations over your future in the weeks to come?

LENNON: “I’ve had a few of them over the weeks don’t worry about that…”

PROPHETIC…the advertising hoarding says it all for Neil Lennon at the end of the 1-0 loss to Ross County in Dingwall on February 21 2021 – the Northern Irishman’s final game as Celtic boss.

The Northern Irishman was in charge of Celtic for only six more league games before his exit following a wretched 1-0 collpase to relegation-threatened Ross County in Dingwall on February 21 2021.

The two losses book-ended a run of five consecutive wins over Kilmarnock (4-0), Motherwell (2-1), St Mirren (4-0), St Johnstone (2-1) and Aberdeen (1-0).

However, the end was in sight as Lennon trudged towards the dressing room at the Global Energy Stadium on a cold and frosty evening in the Highlands.


Click Here for Comments >

About Author