BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
NEIL LENNON insists Tony Cascarino is clueless about Scottish football after the loudmouth pundit rubbished the standard north of the border.
Cascarino, a flop during his one season at Celtic, hit the headlines when he played down the feat of Brendan Rodgers’ record breaking 63-match domestic unbeaten run with the Hoops during in interview on talkSPORT.
The former Republic of Ireland international said: “To justify this great run they’ve been on – well, who have they actually beaten? Beating Ross County and St Johnstone when the team’s miles ahead, it means nothing”.
Lennon, receiving Ladbrokes Premiership manager of the month for October, acknowledges the financial gulf to European superpowers and sides in England, but he believes the quality, drama and atmosphere of the game in Scotland is something to be proud of.
“It is disrespectful. How much Scottish football does Tony [Cascarino] watch?” he hit back. “To go 63 games at any level is remarkable. Celtic are an excellent side and they proved that with a few games in the Champions League.
“We’re not getting the money the English clubs can get but the Scottish game is improving. It’s getting healthier. You only have to look at the calibre of manager working up here to see that there is definitely an upturn.
“I find the competition and the quality of the games really refreshing. We don’t need people from down south lecturing us on how the game is up here.
“There is still that rawness here. There is still that passion. It’s still a working-class sport up here. You don’t have too many prawn sandwich brigades, who kill the soul of the game. I’ve been to a lot of grounds in England where the atmosphere is awful.”
Nor does he believe the fare on show in England, despite the finances in place, gives snipers from south of the border the right to look down on the SPFL.
“I’ve seen some absolute rubbish in England. Rubbish,” slammed Lennon. “Over the weekend, there were three or four 1-0s. I watch some games in the Championship and the football is eye-bleeding, whereas I have seen some really good games up here.
“If there could be an injection of money, you would see a huge difference in the Scottish game but it is doing best and it is improving.”
Indeed, few are improving as swiftly as Hibs, who have racked up a four-match winning run to move to within two points of second-placed Aberdeen.
However, Lennon believes the acid test of his side is yet to come – with December bringing a third crack at Celtic, as well as mouth-watering encounters against the Dons, Hearts and Rangers.
“What can we do better? Beat Celtic,” he smiled. “That would be one of the games you can look at and say ‘can we do it?’ We played well in the two games against Celtic so far this season so that’s an aspiration to have.
“Then we want to be in the bracket of Aberdeen and Rangers because I think those are the next two strongest, after Celtic who are a juggernaut
“There is more to come from Rangers once they get a manager in, as they have a strong squad there, and Aberdeen are really consistent but we want to be at the forefront of that.
“We’re doing okay at the minute. We are in a strong position but December is a huge month for us. We have Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts. There are seven games in that month and we’ll see where we are after that. Nothing seems to faze my players right now.”