Celtic: Six months of Neil Lennon in his own words after his departure

Neil Lennon’s miserable six months at Celtic was finally brought to an end as he chose to quit as manager on Wednesday.

Celtic chiefs described it as a ‘sad day’ to see a ‘true Celtic man’ like Lennon depart but he leaves amid growing unrest among the club’s supporters with bitter rivals Rangers closing in on a famous league title. 

Lennon has cut an agitated figure since Celtic’s dismal Champions League exit back in August and having chosen to walk away, Sportsmail looks back at six months of misery in Lennon’s own words. 

Neil Lennon chose to quit as Celtic manager on Wednesday following a miserable six months

Neil Lennon chose to quit as Celtic manager on Wednesday following a miserable six months

August 26, 2020

Celtic 1-2 Ferencvaros – Celtic suffered their earliest Champions League exit in 15 years after falling to a shock defeat at the hands of Ferencvaros in Glasgow

‘There are some players who may want to leave. They have made inroads into that in the last six months or so. So if they don’t want to be here, we have to do something about it. If they are making waves to leave the club they are obviously not committed. 

‘We want players committed to the club. I am not going to go into it but I am putting it out there because it has been bugging me for a long long time. I’ll have to carry the can, and take the responsibility for it. I don’t know if it’s attitude, mentality but we seem to have made the same mistakes as we did last year.    

‘Just poor, poor goals defensively and not a cutting edge in the final third when we’re in control. I’m not saying Ferencvaros are a bad team, they’re not, but looking at the game in the cold light of day, we had so much control of the game that we should’ve won. But we haven’t. 

‘That doesn’t make us weak, it doesn’t make me weak but people will cast aspersions that we’re not good enough. They are good enough, they haven’t performed anywhere near what they can tonight and let the game get away from them.’

Celtic suffered their earliest Champions League exit in 15 years by losing to Ferencvaros

Celtic suffered their earliest Champions League exit in 15 years by losing to Ferencvaros

Lennon could only bury his head in his hands as he called out the loyalty of some of his players

Lennon could only bury his head in his hands as he called out the loyalty of some of his players

October 18, 2020

Celtic 0-2 Rangers

‘The win gives Rangers a lift obviously. It’s early in the season though and you can’t listen to all the noise outside. 

‘Can they respond? Absolutely. They’ve done it before. But they can’t live on the past. This is the present and we’ve got a title race on our hands and we have to roll out sleeves up and do better. 

‘We really needed a spark. I thought we lacked a bit of experience today and we’re a little naive in some aspects.’

November 4, 2020

Celtic 1-4 Sparta Prague – Europa League exit

‘This is definitely a turning point – it won’t happen again, that’s for sure. We can’t accept that and the players know that as well. I can’t defend the players. I’ve tried to over the piece, but I can’t defend them tonight. 

‘Lack of application, lack of hunger and that’s not us, so there has to be a culture change and I’ve got to change it quickly and the players need to change quickly as well because that’s totally unacceptable for a club of our standing. It is an accumulation of things. 

‘We need to get back to showing a bit more humility and start working harder on the training ground.’

Sparta Prague ran riot in Glasgow to shock Celtic and dump them out of the Europa League

Sparta Prague ran riot in Glasgow to shock Celtic and dump them out of the Europa League

November 29, 2020 

Celtic 0-2 Ross County – Betfred Cup exit

‘I didn’t think there was a hell of a lot wrong with the performance. The body language of the players was good. They are trying to find solutions, as we all are. 

‘If you keep losing games, there is an expectation at this club, there’s a demand for excellence and there’s a demand for wins – I am fully aware of that. I am not standing here like the happy clapper saying everything’s okay, because it’s not. But we’ll do everything we can – if I’ve still got the opportunity to do that – to turn things around. 

‘Today’s result wouldn’t have helped, put it that way. They [the board] believe in me and I believe in what I’m trying to do. I know I’m repeating myself but we do believe we will turn this around and quickly.’

Ross County's Alex Iacovitti (left) celebrates as Celtic were eliminated from the Betfred Cup

Ross County’s Alex Iacovitti (left) celebrates as Celtic were eliminated from the Betfred Cup

Security services gathered as fans congregated outside Parkhead to express their anger

Security services gathered as fans congregated outside Parkhead to express their anger

December 12, 2020 

Pre-match presser

‘They are not a board that sack managers for the sake of it. We have had great success. We are going through a tough time but they don’t leave you out in the lurch.’

January 2, 2021

Rangers 1-0 Celtic – Result opened up a 19-point gap for Rangers

‘You can’t just say it’s over, because there is still a lot of football to be played. We have to be a lot more consistent in the second half of the season than we have been in the first half. It may be a pivotal moment – I can’t predict what is going to happen – but we have to keep playing like that, keep being consistent, keep winning games and apply as much pressure as we possibly can. 

‘They (my players) were outstanding today and we made them (Rangers) look very ordinary today. 

‘We were by far superior and just needed the finishing touch really. We thought it would come the longer the game goes on, they would tire.’

Rangers made it back-to-back Old Firm wins to stretch their lead over Celtic to 19 points

Rangers made it back-to-back Old Firm wins to stretch their lead over Celtic to 19 points

Lennon on Shane Duffy signing

‘Shane will go straight into the squad. It’s a great bit of business by the club and great for the supporters. 

‘We’ve got a quality player that understands the ethos of the club and it’s important to have players like that in the dressing room.’

Lennon on fan protests after Ross County defeat 

‘I understand the frustrations of the supporters because ultimately we are not on a great run at the minute. But it serves no purpose, particularly for the players. 

‘I am old enough, big enough to take criticism and abuse. Some of it is justified, some of it is over the top. That’s the role of a manager and that’s the responsibility you have to bear. 

‘We are all in agreement we must do better and we have to do that with results and performances. It can turn around very quickly, then it’s baby steps after that; build, build, build. 

‘For 20 years, from my own point of view, I’ve done everything in my power to bring success for the club and the fans. That’s not going to change on the back of a bad month or people being upset at my style of management or whatever it is.’

Furious fans protest outside Parkhead after Celtic were knocked out of the Betfred Cup

Furious fans protest outside Parkhead after Celtic were knocked out of the Betfred Cup

Lennon on Dubai debacle

‘We’ve been held to a far higher standard than any other club. Protocols at different clubs are inconsistent. 

‘As soon as Celtic are deemed to do something wrong, bang, you’re all wanting blood, it’s absolutely scandalous. The fallout from this has been way too much. 

‘We did not abuse any privilege. We did the right things. We were absolutely, totally professional. We had a little drink in the afternoon on a day off, completely allowed, no law breaking, yet we come back to this barrage of absolute hypocrisy. 

‘We’ve come back, we’ve been absolutely decimated by these rules. It seems political.’

A furious Lennon defended Celtic' controversial mid-season trip to Dubai amid criticism

A furious Lennon defended Celtic’ controversial mid-season trip to Dubai amid criticism

Celtic were heavily criticised for going ahead with the trip despite rising Covid-19 cases

Celtic were heavily criticised for going ahead with the trip despite rising Covid-19 cases

Lennon on Andy Walker

‘You can’t go on a public platform and spread lies and insults about my professionalism, my players’ professionalism. 

‘About 70-80 per cent of the group are teetotal and you know the inference and innuendo that he is making. It is not a stag do, it isn’t an ’18-30′ even though it has been portrayed like that. 

‘We went out there with the best intentions. I want Andy to apologise because he was demanding apologies from the club. I want an apology from Andy because he has questioned my professional integrity, my players’ professional integrity and the use of the word jolly is crass and arrogant.’

Lennon wants an apology from Andy Walker after he labelled the trip a 'jolly' on Sky Sports

Lennon wants an apology from Andy Walker after he labelled the trip a ‘jolly’ on Sky Sports

January 20, 2021 

Livingston 2-2 Celtic – Lennon pressed on his future 

‘If the club have to make a decision then they have to make a decision. You’re asking the wrong guy about my position. I’m fed up answering it really. 

‘Everyone is interested in my job. You keep asking if I’m going to be here. I will be until I’m told otherwise. 

‘There have been many [fans who don’t support me] like that since I got the job. But we’ve won five trophies out of six. Not bad.’

At a snow-covered Livingston, Celtic's miserable season took another dive in a 2-2 draw

At a snow-covered Livingston, Celtic’s miserable season took another dive in a 2-2 draw 

January 30, 2021

Celtic 1-2 St Mirren – proves ‘lowest point’ for Lennon

‘There has definitely been a disconnect between the team that ended last season and started this one.

‘The lack of belief and lack of quality – it’s not just individuals, it’s a collective, and it’s symptomatic of the season.

‘It was dreadful. We deserved what we got today. I would say this is the lowest point of the six years I have been manager here [across two spells]. This is a real test of adversity and you have to show strength. I want to show strength but I need some support and performances from players.

‘Too many of them have been insipid this season, to say the least. Whatever walk of life you are in you need to have a form of professional pride. Especially at a club like this.’

Neil Lennon's men had just four shots on target in a damaging home defeat to St Mirren

Neil Lennon’s men had just four shots on target in a damaging home defeat to St Mirren

February 21, 2021

Ross County 1-0 Celtic – Lennon apologises 

‘I apologise. It wasn’t for the want of trying. The players were putting in the effort, but it wasn’t good enough.

‘It encapsulates our season. It’s another poor goal from a set piece. But I think we played well tonight and did enough to win the game.

‘The goal is inexcusable. Our defenders don’t seem to want to defend this season. We do the work on the training pitch but if the players don’t attack the ball there’s not much you can do.

‘It’s been a running theme for us this season for whatever reason. It’s hugely damaging.’

Lennon was forced to apologise to supporters after Jordan White's goal defeated Celtic

Lennon was forced to apologise to supporters after Jordan White’s goal defeated Celtic

The striker headed home unchallenged from a 71st-minute free-kick on Sunday night

The striker headed home unchallenged from a 71st-minute free-kick on Sunday night

February 24, 2021

Celtic announce split from Lennon 

‘We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously.

‘I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

‘I have always given my best to the Club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters. The Club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.

‘I would like to thank so many people at the Club who have given me so much and I would also like to thank my family for their love and support. 

‘I wish the Celtic supporters, players, staff and directors nothing but success for the future.’  


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