Tuesday 28 January 2020

Lennon: Our Bhoys will bounce back

Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon has detached himself from the "hysteria" over Celtic's Champions League exit and vowed to eradicate his team's slow starts.

The Scottish champions recovered from a half-time deficit against Cluj on Tuesday to lead twice before crashing to a 4-3 home defeat that consigned them to a Europa League play-off against AIK.

Lennon again stood by his decision to play Callum McGregor instead of £3million signing Boli Bolingoli at left-back and stick with Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic in central defence with £7million arrival Christopher Jullien on the bench.

And he feels his team did more than enough in the second half to win the game.

"I understand the environment, I understand the hysteria," said the 48-year-old ahead of today's Betfred Cup tie against Dunfermline.

"It's just the modern-day phenomenon now. You have to take a step back from that and detach yourself from it.

"So when we win 7-0 and fives I'm not thinking I am the next big thing and when we lose I'm not too low about it. There has to be a sense of perspective on every performance and every game.

"We didn't deserve to lose the game. I'm not big on stats but we dominated possession and had 20-odd attempts on goal. As a manager you have to look at that and say maybe it just wasn't our night.

"We were rampant at 2-1 and just gave Cluj oxygen in the game. Some of the goals we lost were freakish to say the least.

"We are bullish about things, we still have a lot to play for. It's a setback but we are galvanised and reunited and we will go again."

Lennon referenced the second full season of his first spell in charge when Celtic trailed Rangers by 15 points before winning the league.

He added: "I have been in difficult situations as a Celtic manager before, in difficult situations as Hibernian manager before. I wouldn't say this is a difficult situation.

"It's a blow, it's a setback. But I have a fantastically talented group of players that I have a lot of gratitude for people giving me the opportunity to manage.

"I didn't think we played poorly, I didn't think we deserved to lose. But we did lose it."

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