"Blame players not manager" for "unacceptable" 4-1 Sparta Prague embarrassment says Celtic captain Scott Brown
Celtic captain Scott Brown has said that he and his team-mates and not manager Neil Lennon should be placed in the firing line for one of the club’s most egregious European home performances across 55 years competing on the continent.
Brown’s vow to the Celtic support is that the players will “bite and scratch” to turnaround a season appears as if it could unravel following the gutless 4-1 Europa League defeat to Sparta Prague.
The team lacked desire, desire and direction in suffering a desperate defeat that leaves them with one point from three Group H game but more importantly will intensify the heat on Lennon from a now insurrectionist support enraged at the chaotic nature of Celtic’s performance in their 10-in-a-row chasing season.
Only one win has come from their past six games as 14 goals have been conceded and Brown accepts they can afford no more blow-outs in heading to Motherwell on Sunday nine points behind Premiership leaders Rangers.
Lennon’s employment prospects will be flailed by the club’s followers in these coming days but Brown believes the palpable sense of anger should not be directed his way.
“The pressure should be on the players, not the manager,” said the Celtic captain. “The manager has been fantastic for us from when he first came in. It’s about the players on the park and we need to take responsibility.”
Asked if he had a message for a Celtic support apoplectic over the sorriest of showings against the Czechs that came only days after a Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Aberdeen that has moved the club to within a game of a fourth straight treble, he said: “The message to fans is we will fight and scratch to make sure we bounce back. Sunday is huge now and we need to make sure we put on a performance and get three points. It wasn’t a day we could say we gave supporters what they wanted. They’ve had a lot of fantastic times and we need to make sure they continue. We know that wasn’t the standard we accept at this club.
“It wasn’t anywhere near where it should have been. That’s start to finish, throughtout the whole team. Probably not one person got pass marks. It wasn’t a team performance. It was a group of individuals. “We’ve got to be strong now. This is where character comes through. We know we have quality players who can perform. We can’t have lapses now and then. We need to be focused and give everything on the park as a minimum. We just have to get together and work hard so everyone knows how good a Celtic team this is. We’ve not hit those standards yet for whatever reason but need to make sure we do it quickly.
“This season is slowly going and we need to hit top form quickly. I would love to put my finger on it and tell you what it was but we need to make sure we are better all over the park – we work harder, we fight more, we create more chances and defend better as a team. For us, the Sparta performance was nowhere near the standard set at this club, and especially over the last 13 years I have been here. It’s not acceptable.”
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