Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon were such shameful adverts for the game

Neil Lennon’s face was full of fury. He looked like a man possessed as he shouted abuse, pointed a finger and stared down Ally McCoist.

The pair of them had to be pulled apart by backroom staff before the unsavoury incident became even nastier.

It was desperate to watch, though at the same time you couldn’t take your eyes off it.

A bit like the Scottish Cup replay itself, that preceded the touchline bust-up at the final whistle of the latest Old Firm battle, which saw THREE Rangers players sent-off.

Celtic boss Lennon and Rangers assistant manager McCoist are two of the chief flagbearers for Scottish football.

But on Wednesday night at Parkhead they looked like nothing more than a couple of unruly kids out for a scrap.

Hardly the example to set, is it?

Listen, I know there’s not a more passionate game on the planet than when the Glasgow giants meet and the atmosphere is always intense, but it’s no excuse for the appaling behaviour of Lennon and McCoist, who takes over from Walter Smith as Ibrox’s top man in the summer.

Referee Calum Murray — who would have wanted to be in his boots on Wednesday? — had already ticked off Lennon and McCoist after a first-half flashpoint.

Then the pair of them squared up at the finish.

If they can’t control themselves, how can they tell their players or fans to do the same?

Initially it looked as though they would shake hands, like people in their position should do, but then McCoist said something and Lennon lost the plot.

It’s not the first time since being appointed that the Lurgan man has become embroiled in bother.

Yesterday he was in front of the Scottish FA appealing a six-game touchline ban.

In previous Old Firm games he’s vented his anger at Steven Naismith and Kyle Lafferty and in midweek became involved in an unnecessary row with El Hadji Diouf.

Why on earth did Lennon feel the need to get involved with that clown Diouf?

I know Celtic midfielder Scott Brown loves winding Diouf up, but there’s no need for his manager to do the same, especially when the Rangers player would find trouble in an empty room!

As a player at times Lennon played on the edge.

As a manager, you can’t do that because it reflects badly on your club.

The former Northern Ireland midfielder has had a dreadful time with death threats and any right thinking person would sympathise with him on that.

Away from football, he’s an intelligent bloke and interesting company.

But once on that touchline, his composure disappears.

Lenny has lost his cool so many times with the opposition and referees that you wonder if he can handle the pressure that goes with an Old Firm job.

And this when the Lurgan man is showing real potential for the role.

Celtic are on course for a domestic treble in his first full season in charge — yes, the Hoops won the Scottish Cup tie 1-0 in case you had forgotten — and much of that is down to Lennon’s tactics and shrewd signings.

If only he could stay calm in the heat of the battle and act in a responsible fashion — the same, of course, goes for McCoist — he could go on to become one hell of a football manager.

Belfast Telegraph

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