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Friday 9 December 2016

'Brendan will get over imps shock' - Lennon

Ex-Celtic boss blasts 'hysterical nature' of reaction to Euro loss

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has backed Brendan Rodgers to recover from the shock Champions League qualifying round first leg defeat to Gibraltan minnows Lincoln Red Imps. Picture Credit: SPORTSFILE
Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has backed Brendan Rodgers to recover from the shock Champions League qualifying round first leg defeat to Gibraltan minnows Lincoln Red Imps. Picture Credit: SPORTSFILE
New Celtic Manager, Brendan Rodgers. Picture Credit: Reuters / Lee Smith

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes the reaction to the Hoops' Champions League defeat in Gibraltar is hysterical.

The Hibernian boss was too busy preparing for his own team's European opener to watch Celtic's 1-0 defeat by Lincoln Red Imps on Tuesday, but he recognised that a game on a difficult artificial surface in mid-July could present difficulties.

And he believes the shock loss in Brendan Rodgers' managerial debut will quickly be forgotten.

"I wouldn't read anything into it really other than it's come very early," Lennon said.

"Listen, I've been there myself, it's difficult. But Celtic aren't out of the tie. If they were out of the tie then I could understand the hype, the furore around it and the hysterical nature of it.

Surprise

"But they will be a week fitter when they play Lincoln at Celtic Park and I expect Celtic to comfortably come through the tie and move on to the next round.

"I think there's too much analysis over something that might be a bit of a surprise, but it's not going to rock the season for Celtic, that's for sure. They will come through the tie no problem."

Lennon backed Rodgers' assertion that the defeat was no embarrassment and his message to Celtic fans not to panic.

"Brendan is right, he is spot on," Lennon said. "They will get through. By all accounts they probably should have won last night. From a coach's point of view, were they creating chances? Yeah. Were they unlucky not to win? Should they have won? Yeah.

"It will be different at Celtic Park, they will come through it and then it will be forgotten about very quickly."

Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas had a different opinion, though, and told Rodgers his honeymoon period was over.

"I'm trying to get my head around it," Nicholas told Sky Sports News.

"When you're sitting there as a Celtic fan, trying to take this all in, with a guy who has motivated all of the support, the toughest thing of all is you have to go out there and play.

"All this rubbish about the rubber pitch, they're just excuses. This is probably as humiliating as it gets.

"I was really disappointed with Brendan's comment. I watched 15 minutes of the first half and I thought, 'This doesn't look good at all, it doesn't look like a Brendan Rodgers team.'

"He has to take his responsibility, it's going to take him time to get this right, but it was a loss that was severely embarrassing, it's as embarrassing as it gets."

One of his former Parkhead team-mates, Andy Walker, agreed with Nicholas.

"I can't quite believe what I saw," Walker told Sky Sports. "I played in a few games for Celtic that were pretty embarrassing - arguably this is the worst result in the history of Celtic. It's embarrassing and humiliating. I don't think anyone saw it coming.

"Most of the players are Ronny Delia's signings, but this is Brendan Rodgers' team now. There's no escape from criticism and I think it highlights how much work is needed on the team. There is a level of humiliation here, this is a semi-amateur team. It's an extraordinary result and I don't think you can underestimate how sore the supporters will be feeling.

"Brendan Rodgers has called it wrong: this is embarrassing.

"Nothing less than a win in the second leg will do, but even then the supporters will be looking at some of the players and thinking they're not quite good enough to take them to the Champions League group stages.

"I'm sure Brendan Rodgers will realise that - he has to spend a bit of money. There's no point bringing in a manager of his pedigree and not giving him any money to work with in the transfer market."

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