Neil Lennon speaks out against 'new breed' of Celtic supporter in first major interview since resignation
Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has spoken out against the ‘new breed’ of supporter that ‘belie the values of the club’ in his first major interview since resigning.
Lennon left Celtic in February. Aside from a few appearances on BBC Radio 5 Live has kept largely quiet on a deeply disappointing season.
He’s now joined The Times for their Euro 2020 coverage and has given an exclusive interview this weekend.
Speaking to journalist Michael Grant, Lennon went into the hurt of a dismal campaign.
One major incident came after the League Cup exit at the hands of Ross County in November. It had become clear our season was unravelling fast. Supporters congregated at the stadium to protest the situation.
He wasn’t happy with that reaction.
Lennon told The Times: “That was the first cup defeat in 35/36 games. It was the end of an unbelievable cycle of success and for them to be treated that way was bewildering. They should have been lauded for it rather than abused. They were getting pelted with missiles. It was very sad.
“There was a new breed of supporters that I had nothing in common with and who belie the values of the club. They are the ones that are giving the club a bad name.”
Neil Lennon bemoans unhealthy obsession at Celtic
The former Celtic manager would go on to bemoan the fixation of fans on the mythical ten-in-a-row.
He said: “It was definitely a situation like no other. You’re going for the tenth title in a row and that was an obsession for the fans, an unhealthy obsession I felt. And we were in the midst of a pandemic where nothing was normal.
“So you put that together and there were a lot of things that were out of your control as a manager.”
The 49-year-old also criticised the way supporters treated Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell. In the interview he claimed that the duo were as strong as they could be throughout.
He didn’t go into detail on behind-the-scenes problems at the club but did admit there was a lot of anxiety in the squad for a variety of reasons, many related to the pandemic.
Bewildered by lack of faith
Lennon then summed up how he felt about his resignation, the lukewarm reaction to the Scottish Cup win and the ‘joyless’ season, telling The Times: “I wouldn’t say I was hurt, I was more bewildered by it and the lack of time and the lack of faith that people showed in me. It’s basically fans I’m referring to more than anything else.
“I can walk away with 21 medals as a player and a manager, the first guy to do the treble as both a player and a manager. If that doesn’t mean a lot to other people, it means a lot to me.”
Lennon is now looking for a new start away from Scottish football, feeling he still has a lot to offer the game as a manager but also as a pundit. He refutes the suggestion he is a ‘dinosaur’ and has been taking steps of self-improvement since February.
Clearly, he isn’t for backing down on his second reign as Celtic boss. Lennon feels there were factors out of his control when it came to managing the club over the last 12 months.
That’s his side of the story, of course. Many fans will have a different perspective.