NEIL LENNON has made sensational claims that some Celtic players missed games last season – where they were perfectly fit to play.
The former Hoops boss wouldn’t name names in his extraordinary allegations during the still-painful fall-out of a wretched campaign that saw the club blow the opportunity of making history with a tenth successive title.
A season that promised so much the previous summer with the team on a high after achieving the phenomenal quadruple treble – TWELVE consecutive domestic trophies – went off the rails in dramatic and inexplicable fashion with the Parkhead outfit failing to lift any silverware for the first time in 11 years.
As the side faltered with some bewilderingly low-key performances – most notably losing in the Betfred League Cup at home to Ross County in November – Lennon lost his job two days after a Premiership defeat against the Highlanders in Dingwall in February.
Speculation surrounded a few wantaway players not pulling their weight and there was no argument some in the hoops did not perform to expected standards.
Fifty-year-old Lennon said: “We’d won nine titles in a row — four trebles — and some players just got to the end of the road.
“You could see it pre-season, the body language, they weren’t with us. You could smell it.
“Some players were, I wouldn’t say feigning injury, but they could have played and didn’t.
“This eats into the dressing room.”
Lennon, speaking to the Scottish Sun, continued: “You’ve got great pros like Scott Brown and Callum McGregor, unbelievably successful, being dragged down by guys who don’t want to be there.
“Before lockdown, we’d been rampant, we’d won at Lazio. But after three months of players going home, the environment changed. Players found it difficult to adjust.
“But Juventus didn’t win the league, PSG didn’t, Real Madrid and Barcelona didn’t, Liverpool won the league by 20 points, then lost six in a row at home.
“It was unprecedented and we were the same.
“Did I want to leave? Not really. But you want to do what’s best for the club, especially with what Celtic means to me.
“I won five out of seven trophies the second time, though, and Steven Gerrard has won one out of nine.
“People think it’s easy coming up here, but you have to win every week — a draw isn’t good enough.”
Lennon has been out of football since his February 23 exit from Parkhead and is eager to return to management.
He added: “When I first took the Celtic job, I was a firebrand. I wanted to fight the world.
“In my second spell, I was the essence of calm — too calm almost, going against my principles.
“People have a misconception of me being volatile, but I know how to win trophies.
“I look at Pep Guardiola at Anfield and I love him for that. Sometimes your players need to see you fighting for them.”
Lennon’s reference was to the Manchester City boss hitting the roof after Liverpool’s James Milner had escaped a second yellow card following an obvious and deliberate foul during the 2-2 draw between the English giants.
If the Northern Irishman has his way, he could soon be back in the dug-out displaying those same emotions.