JOHN HARTSON has admitted he is “hurt and disappointed” by his pal Neil Lennon’s reaction to his recent comments.
After hearing the remarks of the Hoops’ former striker, the Celtic boss snapped they “mean nothing” to him, as CQN reported yesterday.
Hartson had insisted it was time for Lennon to move on with the team in disarray and a massive 21 points adrift in their historic pursuit of the tenth successive title although they have three games in hand, the first which will be played against Livingston in West Lothian tonight.
The Welsh legend’s call to quit sparked a reaction from his one-time team-mate who fired back that his view was worthless as he hit out at “people on the periphery of the game”.
Hartson, speaking to the Scottish Sun, commented: “Neil said my opinion doesn’t matter to him and that’s up to him.
“But I was only giving my honest opinion on how things are at Celtic.
“To be honest, I’m hurt and disappointed that he’s chosen to come out and have a go at me. Listen, he’s clearly a man under severe pressure, so it’s maybe understandable.
“He’s only human and it must be difficult to handle everything that’s going on right now. But he’s got to know that I wasn’t having any personal dig at him. Far from it, because I’ve been arguably his biggest supporter down the years.”
Hartson added: “For me, the whole Dubai thing is distracting from the real issue and that’s about Celtic being 21 points behind Rangers.
“That’s why Neil is under pressure more than anything. The Dubai issue is a sideshow, it’s not the key thing in my mind.
“And I’d say that’s how the vast majority of Celtic supporters feel about it, too. They were shouting for change long before that trip was arranged.
“They have lost all faith in Neil because of performances and the results on the pitch.
“That’s the be-all and end-all for the fans this season when they’ve been dreaming of winning 10 in a row for so long.
“Maybe that’s why Neil spent Monday talking so much about Dubai. It took all the attention away from the back-to-back draws against Hibs and Livingston.”
Lennon missed the previous two outings due to self-isolation protocols in the Covid-19 fall-out after Christopher Jullien tested positive for the virus upon return from the training camp in the United Arab Emirates.
Thirteen players were also quarantined, but all – apart from one unnamed star – will be available for selection for the match in West Lothian.
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