Celtic boss Neil Lennon reacts to personal criticism as he praises winning response at Motherwell
Neil Lennon refused to speculate on just how much he personally needed the winning display that his Celtic team delivered with the 4-1 success at Motherwell.
The 49-year-old has had his job prospects picked apart since the 4-1 mauling by Sparta Prague on Thursday. However, he preferred to focus on fundamentals from his players that brought only a second win in seven games and that were wholly absent against the Czechs. Which had resulted in him have “a few choice words” with his players.
“I don’t know [how much I needed that],” he said of the outcome. “You always need a result at a club like this and I got the result and performance I was looking for. Look, we let ourselves down on Thursday. No question about that. So they have shown today what they are capable of doing and we just need that consistency in individual and team performance.
‘It was so much better today. You can talk about levels. We have a bit of work to do in Europe, and it may be too far for us now. We’ll not give up trying but we have to be more consistent now. That’s a good barometer for us. Body language, work-rate, quality of play – it was all there. There is a lot to be positive about it. We didn’t panic. We don’t get too low and we don’t get too high. We have a lot of work to do and a long way to go in the season but to come away and score four is a good sign.”
Lennon said he has blocked out the personal criticism heaped his way in recent weeks. “It is not a problem. You get praised sometimes and you look at it and wonder what they’re talking about. Or you get criticised and you ignore it. I’m too long in the tooth now to get myself involved in that. My main focus is the team and the players and I think we have done a good job between Thursday and Sunday to get them back at it.”
The Mohamed Elyounoussi hat-trick wasn’t considered by Lennon as necessary atonement from the player following the furore over him being on his phone in the stand during the Sparta humbling. “There is analysis of everything we are doing at the minute. Elyounoussi on his phone and the body language and this, that and the other. I got what I wanted today. Elyounoussi scored a hat-trick after being criticised unreasonably for looking at a result on his phone the other night.
"I had a brief chat with him and he explained to me what had happened and that was the end of it. He is a top professional. I have no problem with his attitude or the way he behaves around the place. It was never an issue for me. I think that’s unfair but he has responded in the right way. We asked him at half-time to go and get the hat-trick he didn’t get in Lille [after scoring twice there] and it was a brilliant third goal.”
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