Red-carded Jozo Simunovic praised by Celtic boss

By David Walton

July 3, 2019

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has moved to defend the red-carded Jozo Simunovic after yesterday’s blunder.

The Hoops boss didn’t come across as disappointed or angry in his centre-back. Instead, he came across as grateful for the performances Simunovic put in before he got the managerial gig permanently.

Lennon was speaking to the Scottish Sun after the 0-0 draw against St Gallen. Simunovic was sent off for a dangerous looking high boot, and it had Celtic on the ropes in their final pre-season game of the summer. Ironically, however, it stepped up the intensity and perhaps worked better for the players’ fitness levels.

Jozo Simunovic had some big moments last season under Neil Lennon (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

And Lennon didn’t show any anger in his defender’s red card. This is what Lennon had to say on the incident itself.

“I’m not sure how much contact there really was, so it seemed a bit harsh in a pre-season friendly. Since I’ve come back to the club, Jozo has been very, very good. He’s been great”

Red-carded offence didn’t come across as harsh

Usually, referees show a bit of leniency in friendly matches. But it’s fair to say that Simunovic’ boot was in a dangerously high position. Regardless of the contact, it wasn’t overly surprising to see him walk for it.

Simunovic has been rash in the past (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

What Simunovic would take heart from is that Lennon appears pleased with him. He needs all of the backing he can get considering Christopher Jullien has now been recruited. Simunovic’s position as a first choice centre-back looks in a lot of danger heading into the new campaign.

That, of course, doesn’t mean he won’t be used. There will still be plenty of times where the Bosnian will be needed as cover. After all, that’s what he was last season yet still managed to rake in 30 appearances. But he shouldn’t get as much game-time as Jullien or Kristoffer Ajer.

Simunovic (right) still has a big fan in Lennon (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Simunovic, however, does have a history of getting involved in rash moments at times. Last season, he picked up a red card against Alashkert for similar clumsiness when there was no real danger. It’s rare, but he can lose concentration on occasion.

But it’s great for the big defender that he still has the backing of Lennon. That shows he’ll be a regular this season once again, and given how many important games a season we have to play, he’ll feature in many of them.