Hibs head coach Neil Lennon calls for calm following embarrassing Celtic defeat



As a manager that led Celtic to the last-16 of the Champions League on two occasions, Neil Lennon, who replaced Alan Stubbs at Hibernian, is well qualified to deliver an analysis of the Hoops’ embarrassing Champions League defeat to Lincoln Red Imps.

Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at the Gibraltan part-timers on the second qualifying round first leg was the worst possible start to Brendan Rodgers’ dugout tenure.

As Lennon prepares his side for this evening’s Europa League visit of Brondby, the 45-year-old has pleaded for calm amid the surfeit of knee-jerk reactions.


“Celtic will come through the tie no problem because they will be a week fitter,” remarked Lennon, who stepped down as Celtic manager in May 2014.

“These games are always difficult. It might be a surprise result. If they were knocked out of the competition then I could understand the hype and the furore and the criticism but Brendan’s right, there’s no need to push the panic button.

“Brendan has only been in the job for a couple of weeks. It is unfair to judge Brendan on that, for sure. And as I say Celtic will get through.

“The fact they haven’t been in the Champions League the last couple of years I think it is important they do progress this year.

“It is tough, you have to get your pre-season right, your preparation in the games right.

“To be honest Brendan does not even know what his best team is yet – he will probably find that out now.

“He might as well use these two games to know them before coming up against better opposition.

“But he is experienced enough to know that one, they will go through and two, they will be fitter and stronger before going into the next round.

“There is no money in the game compared to a lot of other countries, you have to respect that. But it is not all doom and gloom.”

Aberdeen and Hearts are Scottish football’s other representatives in the Europa League but Lennon insists the domestic teams are always facing an uphill struggle.

He added: “We get a raw deal in Scotland because of all these qualifiers. We have four teams in Europe but I think it is really unfair, some of these guys have not played 90 minutes and they are playing teams midway through their season.

“We have to take that into account and we also have to take into account that we do not have the divine right to qualify.”