Former Celtic striker John Hartson has responded to Neil Lennon’s dig at him as the Parkhead Dubai saga rumbles on.
Hartson was speaking on the Ten10Podcasts’ Instant Celtic Reaction show after Saturday’s draw against Livingston (16/01). It was there he stated that it was time for Lennon to leave his post.
This seemed to rattle the Celtic manager during his stinging press conference on Monday. Lennon believes that Hartson should’ve given him a call, and claimed he had an “easy life” in punditry (Daily Record).
Now, the ex-Celtic striker has hit back and appears to have been upset with Lennon’s retort. Hartson had previously been a long-time backer of Lennon.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, however, big John said: “Neil said my opinion doesn’t matter to him and that’s up to him. But I was only giving my honest opinion on how things are at Celtic.
“To be honest, I’m hurt and disappointed that he’s chosen to come out and have a go at me. Listen, he’s clearly a man under severe pressure so it’s maybe understandable. He’s only human and it must be difficult to handle everything that’s going on right now. But he’s got to know that I wasn’t having any personal dig at him. Far from it, because I’ve been arguably his biggest supporter down the years.
“The truth is, I’ve given him huge support throughout his two spells as manager. In the media, I’ve written countless columns backing him and it’s been the same when I’ve gone on the radio or TV. That’s actually been to my own detriment at times as I’ve come in for some real criticism from Celtic supporters who have often accused me of sticking up for him just because he’s a pal.”
Hartson has every right to be upset; Celtic saga is just getting sad now
There really is no need for Hartson and Lennon to potentially fall out here. We know how close they are and how good friends they consider each other to be.
What’s clearly needed here is a phone call between the pair. Perhaps John needs to explain to Neil why he provided his view that he has to go. And it would then be down to Lennon to take it and be respectful and professional regarding Hartson’s opinion.
Personally, there was nothing wrong with John’s verdict. Lennon wanted a call before he went on air to give those views. That’s something I disagree with. Why on earth would any pundit need to check with Lennon first before they give an opinion?
Yes, Neil is good friends with John, but that doesn’t mean anything. Hartson is only calling things like he sees it. Even then, he still comments in a way that’s respectful to the manager and appreciative of the success he’s brought to the club.
To have a go at him was poor. However, Lennon was having a go at absolutely everyone on Monday, so it was no real surprise.
Hopefully, this relationship which now appears fractured can be mended soon. Nobody wants to see any major falling outs.