NEIL LENNON will NOT allow sentiment to dictate his massive decision over skipper Scott Brown as he prepares his line-up for Sunday’s delayed Scottish Cup Final against Hearts at Hampden.
The Celtic boss is under pressure to keep Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull in his midfield that has performed well in the 3-2 Europa League Group win over Lille a week ago and the crucial 2-0 Premiership triumph over Kilmarnock on Sunday.
Club captain Brown has sat in the Parkhead stand on both occasions and former players such as Chris Sutton and Frank McAvennie, as CQN reported, have called for manager Lennon not to allow his heart to rule his head as he plots his strategy for the encounter that could bring the club their twelfth successive domestic honour while completing the phenomenal quadruple treble.
And one of Lennon’s ex-colleagues who believes he will not waver from doing what he considers is the best for the club is Steven Pressley, who has played for both clubs during a superb career.
THE FINAL FAREWELL…Neil Lennon is consoled by Celtic assistant boss Gary Pendrey as he comes off against Dunfermline in 2007.
The one-time Scotland international centre-back was on the pitch the day Lennon, then the club’s onfield leader, was hauled off in the 66th minute and replaced by Gary Caldwell in the 2007 Scottish Cup Final against Dunfermline with the scoreline blank when Gordon Strachan decided to make a momentous change.
It should have been a glorious farewell to the Irishman, who had been seven years at the club and was due to leave Parkhead after that Hampden confrontation.
However, his grande finale was cut short when the Hoops gaffer made his decision and the club eventually got the goal that took the silverware to the east end of Glasgow when on-loan Cameroon international defender Jean-Joel Pierrier-Doumbe scrambled in the winner five minutes from time.
Looking back on Strachan’s surprise move, Pressley, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “The reality is that Gordon and Neil are great friends.
“If you had seen Neil’s reaction that day, he was not happy and he was disappointed. But, on reflection, he understood and respected Gordon’s decision because Gordon had treated him properly throughout his reign.
“If you have built a trust with the player and shown him the loyalty, then he will understand that you have decisions to make.
THE LAST HURRAH…Neil Lennon brings down the curtain on his seven years at Celtic with a Scottish Cup Final victory.
“When you are a football manager, there generally always has to be a degree of loyalty.
“I don’t think you can build relationships in management in terms of your players and creating a culture without the loyalty. It’s impossible. It’s one of the things that your players would expect from you.
“If they are going to give you their lot, they expect it back, so it’s an impossible situation not to show loyalty.”
Pressley added: “Neil will know he has to win this trophy. And I feel Neil is the type of character that would show loyalty, but not to the point where it would affect results.
”Neil has shown loyalty to Scott. He has treated him with great respect.
“So, although it is a big decision, I think it is a decision that can be easily made because of the fact that the relationship is there. It looks as though it’s built on trust and respect.
“Of course, if Scott didn’t play, he’d naturally be really disappointed, but he’d respect the decision.
“I think there’s a good chance Ryan Christie will come back into the equation, but I’m not sure if Scott will start.”