NEIL LENNON will be able to cope with the flak that is coming his way after the abysmal collapse against Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit at Parkhead at the weekend.

Blundering Celtic turned in their worst performance of what the Hoops manager has termed a “monumental season”.

The champions, bidding for a historic tenth successive flag, slipped four points behind their Glasgow rivals, although they have a game in hand.

It was the first time since 1995 the Govan club had been able to win two games on the trot in the east end of Glasgow after claiming their first victory in nine years in December 2019.

Lennon has been the target for criticism after a team selection that just didn’t gel and finished the encounter without a solitary shot on target.

O’Neill, though, is backing his former skipper, a player he brought to Parkhead in a £6million move from Leicester City in December 2000, to take the blows and turn things around.

The former Republic of Ireland international supremo, speaking to the Scottish Sun, said: “When Brendan Rodgers left someone had to go in and keep it going and I don’t believe there was anyone else who could have done that other than Neil Lennon.

“I think he’ll be able to deal with any criticism that’s coming his way, even though it stings.

“But, overall, it’s part of the territory. He has been able to deal with those things in the past and I believe he’ll be able to deal with this now.

“Do I think Celtic will win the league? At their strongest, they are still better than Rangers, so I believe they will do it.”

However, O’Neill, who spent five years in Glasgow after arriving in the summer of 2000, added: “Rangers are getting stronger, having been very weak a couple of years ago, as they tried to make their way through the leagues. Celtic had it all their own way and now it’s different.

“Rangers are pushing them. They were better in the League Cup Final last season – and lost.

“For me, that was because they had not won for a while and Celtic were able to see it through.

“But there is a long way to go this season. Rangers have piled pressure on Celtic and it’s up to them to keep that going, not to drift off like they did last year.”

Lennon led the title kings to nine wins and a draw in their 10 league games after the turn of the year while Gerrard’s side lost to Hearts, Kilmarnock and Hamilton Accies and drew with Aberdeen and St Johnstone as they crumbled under the pressure of attempting to sustain a consistent challenge for the crown.

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