Celtic boss Neil Lennon reveals details of clear-the-air meeting after horror show
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has revealed details of a crisis meeting with his squad on Saturday morning to clear the air following their Europa League humiliation against Sparta Prague.
Thursday’s 4-1 drubbing by Czechs, arguably the club’s worst home showing in 55 years of continental competition, prompted Lennon to break with convention and have a debrief underpinned by a screening of the Sparta horrorshow - a first in a “long, long time”.
An indication of the predicament the club find themselves in following only one win in their past six games, the Celtic manager will recognise his players must produce a victory at Motherwell on Sunday - where they are seeking to avoid a run of three league games without a win for the first time in eight years - to prevent calls for him to go growing. The meeting seems a step he believes necessary to pave the way for an instant response from his team.
Details of meeting
“We went through the game again which is something I haven’t done for a long, long time,” Lennon said. “I wanted them to see it. We got a few points across that we wanted to make. We have to show a much better attitude and apply ourselves a lot better to games. Because the level of performance was unacceptable. We went through the game and then at the end the players had their say too. I had bit of a say after the game on Thursday too. They are clear now on what is required.
“Listen, they are honest enough to know that it was a disappointing performance, considering the standards we have set over the years. We need to get our consistency back, whether it be from a physical playing point of view or mentally, switching back on. Because we have lost concentration at times. We got really ragged in possession which is really unlike us. We started quite well. First 20 minutes were fine and then we got very ragged.”
Griffiths set to start
Lennon has spoken this week of requiring to change the culture among the squad, and, more immediately, recasting the side for the visit to Fir Park. Leigh Griffiths, who netted as a substitute against Sparta to give him three goals in a month despite only 160 minutes game-time across the period, appears in line for only his second start in eight months.
Lennon said Griffiths leading the line against Motherwell was “a possibility”. “He is [closer to starting games regularly], yes,” said the 49-year-old, brushing aside the spat between BT Sport’s Chris Sutton and the forward, who rang Lennon’s former team-mate to call him out after the pundit slammed his fitness on Thursday. “He started against Milan a few weeks ago but didn’t last the course. The way we are using him is probably beneficial for both sides. Him and the team.”
Meanwhile, Lennon has dismissed any repercussions for Mohamed Elyounoussi after the on-loan Southampton attacker was spotted on his phone in the stand against Sparta - an action he later conceded was wrong. “Absolutely not,” said Lennon of any punishment for the Norwegian. “‘There’s no issue. He has already come out and said he was just checking the results. I will take his word for that. He is a very conscientious player. So there is no fall-out from that.”
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