JOHAN MJALLBY insists Neil Lennon WILL answer his critics and build his Celtic team to take them to new levels.

The Hoops gaffer was the target for the snipers when the Hoops lost 4-3 to Cluj and toppled out of the Champions League in a grim August evening at Parkhead.

Lennon kept £7million centre-half Christopher Jullien and £3million left-back Boli Bolingoli on the substitutes’ bench as a makeshift defence paid the price for too many blunders against the Romanians.

The Irishman was also pilloried for deploying midfield man Callum McGregor in the No.3 slot where he did not have a comfortable 90 minutes which was an action replay of his display in the same position at Ibrox in December in another flop.

But his former team-mate and assistant gaffer Mjallby is convinced Lennon is on the right track as he introduces his players and his ideas to the players.

That appeared obvious in France last night as the Hoops fought out a 1-1 stalemate with Rennes and could have had all three points with a little bit of fortune and without some bizarre decisions by ropey referee Jose Sanchez.

It was the club’s fifth away game in European competition this season and they remain unbeaten, with three wins and two draws.

Asked if he was surprised how Lennon was handling things since his return to the club in February, Mjallby, speaking to Sky Sports News, answered: “No, not really because Neil is not a daft man, he’s an intelligent guy.

“He knows what it is to manage Celtic, you are expected to get results and take the club to the next level in the Champions League.

“It’s a difficult task now for Celtic to keep going for this trophy haul in the domestic Cups.

“Lennon is now trying to build his own Celtic side, the Cluj game maybe came a wee bit too early for some of the new players – some of them showed they are terrific players against Rangers. That game gave a lot of confidence for Christopher Jullien and Boli Bolingoli.

“Lennon will always be a talisman for the supporters. They remember his time as a player.

“There is always going to be a worry from supporters when a person who has been the manager comes back. There’s always this ‘don’t ever go back’.

“Neil is the perfect person, he knows the club inside out. His only aspiration is to make Celtic better.”

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