Neil Lennon claims Celtic "couldn't have played too badly" yesterday

By David Walton

August 18, 2019

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has once again moved to defend the Dunfermline performance yesterday.

After a shocking UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of CFR Cluj, Celtic managed to produce an even worse display at Parkhead on Saturday.

Celtic dominated possession against Stevie Crawford’s Pars in the Betfred Cup last-16 clash. Yet, despite that, they were toothless going forward. Visiting goalkeeper Ryan Scully hardly had a decent save to make throughout the contest outside of the two goals.

Celtic fans voiced their anger yesterday at the Champions League exit (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

And, as Lennon once again reflected on the tie in the Scotsman, he still can’t fathom how anyone can criticise the performance.

“The goalie made some great saves. I don’t discourage any of my players taking shots, as long as they have the belief that hit they are going to hit the target or work the goalkeeper, because then anything can happen after that.

“Thirty-six shots, we couldn’t have played that badly. I’m not massive on stats but the one stat I do look out for is attempts on goal because if that’s round about over 20 then you are doing something right.”

Why can’t Lenny accept criticism of the Dunfermline performance?

Lenny isn’t helping himself here. First, he called the win over Dunfermline a great show of character. Now, he’s making up his own rule that if you have over 20 shots then it’s a good performance.

But the truth is, Scully never had many great saves to make. He had some efforts from outside the penalty area that he had to beat away. But, if any had gone past him, you would’ve been questioning him.

Dunfermline Athletic’s equaliser pretty much summed up yesterday (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic fans generally would be a lot more pleased with their manager if he could just admit his mistakes. If he could just bring himself to admit the performances haven’t been good over the last week.

Lenny was right to defend the attacking display we showed against Cluj. After all, the likes of James Forrest, Ryan Christie, and Odsonne Edouard were unplayable. But as for yesterday? Every player who started put in a poor performance.

Neil Lennon showed his frustrations during yesterday’s game (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It would be appreciated by many if our own manager could accept that. But it seems he views that kind of perspective as a criticism of himself. And if there’s one thing Lenny doesn’t like, it’s self-criticism.

Hopefully, that’s the last time Lennon touches on Saturday. He’s providing comments that are simply out of touch with how the supporters are generally feeling. And, in what’s becoming a delicate stage of the season, he doesn’t want to distance himself from those who love him most.