Johnston refuses to pile pressure on Lennon; says Celtic players must be "man enough"

By David Walton

December 23, 2020

Celtic star Mikey Johnston yesterday refused to pile pressure on Neil Lennon after being thrown a tricky question by the media.

Johnston was on pre-match press duties for tonight’s game against Ross County at Parkhed. Three points for the Hoops are essential after dropping 16 points behind Rangers in the table.

And it looks as though that will be the case for the foreseeable future too. Only a lengthy run of wins will allow Celtic the chance to eat into the gap. That only keeps the pressure on Lennon constant as he looks to churn out win after win.

Meanwhile, Mikey was posed a tricky question by PLZ Soccer’s Peter Martin. When asked whether Lennon is now on a knife-edge the winger said the following via Celtic TV as he responded to several of Martin’s questions:

“No. I think as I’ve said there’s always pressure on Celtic teams. We’ve got to be man enough to deal with it. We’re taking each game at a time and every game is vital for us.

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“We’ve shown it in the past. It’s the same team we’ve had for the past few years. We’ve shown that we’re winners, and I definitely think we can (turn things around).

“I just feel as if I’m trying to get myself back to full fitness. And if I can help the team then I will. I’m going to try and make myself available every week, and hopefully I can make a difference to the team.”

Celtic need to stick together at this point – Mikey done well there

This was well played by Johnston here. It can’t be easy being grilled on the manager’s future and knowing fine well the question is right without being able to agree with it.

Lennon is indeed on a knife-edge. The next defeat looks like being the final one. For many fans Lennon crossed that line a while ago. But Johnston brilliantly managed to deflect the attention onto the team.

He didn’t even mention his manager, and that’s key. He doesn’t want to be attracting any unwanted attention to his boss. Talking about the players needing to be man enough is what the Celtic fans want to hear from him. A bit of self-responsibility.

Celtic winger Mikey Johnston (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Yet it’s bizarre because the players will know the situation the manager is in. They’ll know that one poor performance from them and he could be gone. That must be an incredible load of pressure they’re carrying on their shoulders. But Johnston isn’t interested in passing the buck or crying about it.

He could’ve very easily have put his manager in a tricky situation there. If he was to have admitted that he was under pressure and close to the brink, it wouldn’t have reflected well on the overall mood at Lennoxtown.

But fair play to Mikey, he handled the question beautifully. Here’s hoping he can now make just as positive an impact on the pitch in the coming weeks.

In other news, Celtic fans have been split on the SFA’s big decision yesterday.