ABERDEEN boss Derek McInnes insists Neil Lennon is on a “hiding to nothing” as the Celtic interim manager prepares his players for Sunday’s crucial Scottish Cup semi-final encounter.
The Irishman has accepted high expectation levels as the Hoops attempt to take a giant stride towards a historic treble treble.
Lennon has kept the champions on a steady course to lift their eighth successive title and a win over the Dons at the national stadium will set up a Final showdown against Hearts or Inverness Caley Thistle on May 25, the 52nd anniversary of the club’s greatest achievement of lifting the European Cup in Lisbon.
The ex-Hoops gaffer answered the SOS in February to take over from Brendan Rodgers following his rapid exit to Leicester City.
The former Liverpool and Swansea City chief led the Celts to seven consecutive domestic trophies before quitting before completing the job.
Now the focus is on Lennon against the Pittodrie outfit at the weekend and opposition manager McInnes, speaking to The Scotsman, said: “It’s still the same players.
IN WITH A SHOUT…Neil Lennon.
“They’ve got players who can turn the game in an instant. In terms of the managers, both have been successful Celtic managers, Brendan and Neil. He [Lennon] is actually on a hiding to nothing.
“If he wins the league, he’s already said it’s Brendan’s team and been really gracious about that. If he wins the Cup, people will say that [too].
“But if he loses the Cup, it’s Neil’s team and I think the only pressure on Neil will be from himself. I’m pretty sure that the people within Celtic are well aware of his abilities.”
Lennon and McInnes locked horns in the east end of Glasgow last month where the visitors left with a point following a goalless stalemate.
Under Rodgers, the title kings won the previous three confrontations this season – all by the odd goals.
Scott Sinclair grabbed the only strike of the match at Parkhead in late September and the Englishman claimed a hat-trick with Odsonne Edouard chipping in with the other in the 4-3 victory at Pittodrie on Boxing Day.
Earlier in the month, Ryan Christie rifled in the winner in the 1-0 triumph that brought back the League Cup to Paradise for the third term in a row.
Lennon realises he has a lot to live up to, but the Irishman has never lacked courage or commitment in his quest to make Celtic winners.