Neil Lennon admits Celtic 'can't live on past glories' after lacking 'spark' in 2-0 Rangers defeat
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has warned his players that former glories no longer matter.
Lennon made the claim as he acknowledged the title threat now being posed by Rangers following the ease with which the Ibrox men closed out a 2-0 victory in the first derby.
He did not use the Covid-19 circumstances that left him with Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie, Nir Bitton and Hatem Elhamed as an excuse for the absence of a “spark” as his team lost a domestic game for the first time in 2020. An outcome that sees them slip four points behind Steven Gerrard’s side, who have played a game more.
The Celtic manager knows it isn’t enough to draw comfort from the fact that matter that the Scottish champions have recovered from derby losses in their nine-in-a-row run when never has one come so early or been the product of so meek a display.
“It gives Rangers a lift obviously. It’s early in the season though and you can’t listen to all the noise outside,” he said. “Can they respond? Absolutely. They’ve done it before. But they can’t live on the past. This is the present and we’ve got a title race on our hands and we have to roll out sleeves up and do better. I have no idea if these [derby] games will be vital. If they are then we will have to make up for it over time. We’ve got a game in hand we have to win and assess where we are from there. You can’t base everything on four games a season, you have to be consistent all year. We have to get our players back fit. Hopefully Ryan will be available and we’ll see how Odsonne is. We lacked a bit of experience today and we’re a little naive in some aspects.
“Moi [Mohamed Elyounoussi] had a great chance and should have scored. He had more time than he realised and that would have made it 1-1. You can examine it all you want. We should have done better and it meant we were chasing. Rangers were comfortable at 2-0 and I didn’t think we looked like scoring. We didn’t get in behind them enough. We lacked a bit of penetration and a bit of belief. We had big players missing but we still have enough players out there to get something. There was a lack of quality in the final third.
“We gave away poor goals. That was the game in a nutshell. It was really poor from a set play early on so we were bitterly disappointed with that. From then on we did OK. We had the great chance with Moi and I thought we deserved to come in at least level at half time. The second goal was really poor, the second phase from a corner wasn’t dealt with. We didn’t stop the cross and I felt that was the difference between the sides. Rangers defended their box better than us.
“Of course we felt we had enough. There’s nothing you can do about players that are not available. I thought we ran out ideas in the second half. The subs [Albian Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths] didn’t really have an impact as you can see they were not fit enough.”
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