Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 10 October 2015

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: I'm not the villain and am sick of media portrayal

By Gavin McCafferty

Published 08/02/2014

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic boss Neil Lennon was targeted by yobs again last week

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has expressed bafflement at his villain status and insisted he had done nothing to warrant the litany of abuse he has suffered.

Police are investigating the latest attack on Lurgan-born Lennon after missiles flew past his head as he watched the League Cup semi between Aberdeen and St Johnstone at Tynecastle last Saturday.

During his time in Glasgow, Lennon has suffered attacks in his car, death threats daubed on the road outside his home, he was knocked out in a street attack, had bullets sent to him in the post, was attacked by a Hearts fan at a game, and was a victim of a letter-bomb campaign that saw two men jailed for five years.

"I don't want it," the former Northern Ireland international said.

"I don't need it. I'm not happy with some of the stuff that has come out regarding myself in terms of journalists saying, 'He attracts it, it's his controversial, confrontational nature'.

"For me, that's very irresponsible. I am no more confrontational than any other manager in the SPFL. However, when it's an issue regarding me, it seems to be imbalanced.

"You cannot have people throw coins at you when you are sitting there trying to do your job. And yet some people in the back of their minds think it's my fault. Why this happens, I don't know.

"In the past there is no question there were sectarian elements to what happened to me. People want to bury their head about that. I don't, I want it said and I want something done about it. Last week there was no evidence of a sectarian element, but certainly a hooligan element."

Lennon added: "It's getting harder to comprehend because I don't think I have done anything to warrant it. I think my players, myself, my backroom team conduct ourselves in the best way.

"When there are flashpoints, which happens to every manager, it gets highlighted and blown into the stratosphere."

When asked whether he might quit Celtic, Lennon said: "I don't know, I don't know. It's a lot to give up and I don't really want to do that if I can avoid it."

After a pause, Lennon added: "No, it hasn't come to that point yet, certainly not."

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