BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
FURIOUS Neil Lennon has branded Pedro Caixinha disrespectful after accusing the Rangers boss of snubbing him following their fiery clash at Ibrox.
The Hibs boss irked Caixinha by celebrating Simon Murray’s goal by cupping his ear towards the baying home supporters, while a red card to Ryan Jack – subsequently rescinded – and a swathe of flash-points did nothing to calm a powder-keg atmosphere on the touchline.
Nevertheless, Lennon claims he sought to bury the hatchet when the dust had settled, only to be met with a wall of silence from Caixinha and his assistant Helder Baptista.
Lennon, who also hit out at the perceived criminalisation of his celebrations by some, maintains it was a first during his managerial career, with even controversial Old Firm encounters against the likes of Ally McCoist and Walter Smith ending with a civil chat.
“I paid [Caixinha] due respect before the game. I said he came across as a gentleman, I paid Ibrox the compliment of saying it was a great amphitheatre. I even complimented his team’s performance after the game,” said Lennon candidly.
“So, other than kiss his feet, how much more respect does he want me to give him?
“That respect should have been afforded to me when we went into his office afterwards but it wasn’t. Respect is a two-way thing. I went into the office after the game. There was no conversation with myself or my backroom team.
“I’ve never experienced that before. Only [Rangers coaches] Jonatan Johansson and [Craig] Flannigan made conversation. Pedro spoke to his assistant in Portuguese.
“I would never do that. Whether you’ve had a ding-dong, if there have been controversial decisions or a rammy during the game. Even if you’re in a foul mood afterwards, you do it. Even after Old Firm games? Especially in Old Firm games.
“It can be awkward at times, but there is that unwritten rule – there is respect. If Pedro wants that then he has to give some back.”
If Caixinha was upset by Lennon, that was topped by the reaction of a portion of the Rangers support.
Fans’ group Club 1872 criticised his actions, while complaints were even made to Police Scotland, who quickly decided there was no case to answer. The former Celtic captain and manager had labelled the fallout as ‘hysterical nonsense’.
“I have to put up with a lot when I go to this ground [Ibrox] and I don’t complain about it,” he continued. “I could cite a lot of people for what they say, sing or throw. But there is an acceptance that, within the 90 minutes, it’s part of the culture of Glasgow.
“So, when I turn round and cup my ears; to suggest that’s a criminal offence – it’s not. Or when I punch the air – that’s not a criminal offence either.
“It’s hysterical nonsense, completely disproportionate. I think it’s been made out to be Neil Lennon against Rangers instead of Hibs against Rangers.
“I think there has been a massive deflection from us winning the game with a team that cost a fraction of the opposition.”
Indeed, victory in the Ibrox bear-pit ensured Hibs retained their 100 per cent start to the Premiership season ahead of the visit of Hamilton tomorrow, when they could be in a position to field Brandon Barker after agreeing a loan deal to bring the Manchester City winger north of the border.
“I have been a fan of his since my days as a manager with Bolton. I watched him in under-21 games with Man City and he was exceptional,” added Lennon. “He is a very exciting talent, he is quick, can eliminate people and I think he has a goal in him. He needs regular football and he will be challenging to get that here.
“I want to send him back to Man City a better and more experienced player, and his job is to contribute to the team and be successful.”