'Bit of a punchbag'; Derek McInnes reacts to Neil Lennon exit, alludes to deeper problems at Celtic

By John McGinley

February 25, 2021

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes believes Neil Lennon has been a bit of a ‘punchbag’ for the widespread problems at Celtic this season.

McInnes and Lennon have gone head-to-head as rivals multiple times as managers over the years. Often there’s little love lost on the touchline. Off the pitch though, it appears there is great mutual respect.

The Dons boss has spoken up for the former Celtic manager today, suggesting he has been made something of a scapegoat for the club’s collapse this year.

As quoted by STV, McInnes said: “It’s really disappointing to see any manager lose his job but I know how important the Celtic job is and was to Neil.

“What has to be said is he is a very successful Celtic manager. Sometimes in the here and now, particularly in Neil’s case this season, he has been a bit of a punchbag for others and he has had to take a lot on the chin, and a lot of criticism has come his way.

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“I think when you see the difference points-wise Celtic to Rangers, it’s more than a manager at fault there if people are blaming anybody.

“Time will be kind to Neil. It might not be that now because a lot of people got themselves into a real state this season, the 10-in-a-row thing comes into that, but Neil has been a very successful manager in both spells.”

Does McInnes have a point about Lennon?

Any outsider will be thinking too much has been made of Lennon’s failures this season, especially in the context of his last two decades at the club.

You can understand why McInnes would give a pretty measured view of the situation. Obviously he is not the only barrier to progress at Celtic. That’s why bigger changes are on the way.

For Celtic fans though, it’s too soon for any evaluation of Lennon’s status at the club and how he might be viewed in the future.

Derek McInnes has been speaking about Neil Lennon / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

This season hurt, a lot. And the problems were all of our own making. Lennon was undoubtedly a massive part of that.

Although some of the namecalling has been over the top, he has to take his fair share of responsibility for the way everything went wrong. He made some horrid decisions across the piece.

Much of the criticism has been valid.

In other news, Shaun Maloney has provided glowing praise of John Kennedy.