BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
NEIL Lennon has claimed that Scott McDonald ‘pleaded’ with him not to pull the plug on a move to Hibs and has accused the striker of talking ‘nonsense’ over his decision to re-sign with Motherwell.
Lennon says he was left ‘livid’ by McDonald’s claim that initial talks were as far as a possible switch to Easter Road had gone, with the Australian insisting discussions had not reached the ‘finer details’.
Instead, Lennon is adamant he expected the former Celtic marksman in last Wednesday to complete a medical and finalise a deal that had already been agreed following lengthy negotiations.
After McDonald failed to show up and he was told the 32-year-old and his agent wanted to renegotiate their terms, Lennon says he ordered Hibs to pull the contract offer off the table and was left flabbergasted by comments the player made when speaking about his decision to stay at Fir Park.
Eager to place on record his side of the story, Lennon said: “He’s been really economical with the truth.
“First of all, we did not approach him. He approached Hibs, approached me, saying he wanted to come here and work with me.
“So, we put a package together and I spoke to him, that is right. Whilst not speaking verbally on the phone, there was contact by e-mail and text message and we made him an initial offer which I felt would fall short and it did.
“Graeme Mathie, the head of recruitment, was negotiating with him and it got to the stage where it had gone on for three or four days, so I rang his agent.
“I asked what it would take to get the deal done and he told me. I spoke to Leeann (Dempster) and she said ‘yes we can do that’.
“That was last Tuesday and I got back to his representative and said we’ve agreed everything that you and the player want. I said I expected to see him at the training ground on Wednesday and he said ‘that’s great’.
“I came in on Wednesday and there was no sign of him. Graeme told me he wanted to renegotiate and I said ‘no, deal’s off’. I told Leeann and the staff the same, I told the agent to tell the player the deal is off and that’s the end of it.
“So you can imagine my surprise on the Friday when he comes out and says there was no interest from us and there wasn’t an obvious deal on the table, which is totally contrary to what we had been working on for four or five days.
“He said that his heart was set on Motherwell. I don’t mind him gaining kudos with the Motherwell support, but certainly not at the expense of me and Hibs.
“On the Wednesday afternoon, I was having a meeting with my staff and he was ringing and texting, pleading to get the deal back on. Then he said to the public completely the opposite two days later.
“I didn’t like what I read on Friday, that was him covering his own back.
“We matched what he wanted, so there was a good offer on the table and there is only so far you can go. Either you want to come here or you don’t.
“I wouldn’t have to be speaking if I hadn’t read his comments on Friday. He could have handled it a lot better as far as I’m concerned.
“Basically, I got a text from him saying we must have got our wires crossed, but I certainly didn’t have my wires crossed.”
Meanwhile, Lennon has confessed he is seeking a new goalkeeper but insists Mark Oxley is not currently poised to join his former Hull City manager Phil Brown at Southend United.
Lennon added: “Mark is still here at the moment, there is no change there. There is always going to be a bit of speculation at this time of year, but he has been in training and hasn’t really mentioned anything to me on it.
“We are actively looking for a goalkeeper, because Conrad Logan has left. So we are in the market, but there’s no big rush at the minute.”