Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Celtic chiefs not on my back, says Neil Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon insists he is under no boardroom pressure to take Celtic past Sion and into the group stages of the Europa League.



The play-off tie against the Swiss side is finely balanced after the first leg in Glasgow last Thursday finished goalless and the Parkhead men go in to the game on the back of a shock 1-0 defeat at home to St Johnstone.

Lennon's first attempt as Hoops boss in Europe last season saw Celtic knocked out of the Champions League and Europa League at the qualifying stages and last week the club published financial results which revealed the importance of European football.

In the media room at the Stade de Tourbillon ahead of tonight's second leg, Lennon |(pictured) was asked if there was pressure to go through and replied: “Certainly not from up above, no, not at all.

“The pressure is no different from any other game for Celtic, every game is a huge game, there is always something riding on it.

“It is a very important game for me personally. I would dearly love to take the club into the group stages.

“It is going to be very difficult. Sion are a good team, which they proved last week.

“And in the context of the season it is a big game because it would open doors revenue-wise and it would keep our interest in Europe going at least until December.

“For the players as well, it is important to get into the group stages where they can develop their game a bit more.”

Lennon denies another early European exit would hamper his attempts to add to his squad.

“I wouldn't have thought so,” he said. “We have been working away in the background for the last couple of weeks so hopefully after this game we can move on with that.”

After Celtic lost to St Johnstone in the SPL the Celtic boss castigated his players, describing their performance as “immature” and “complacent”.

Asked if he had any regrets about what could be considered harsh criticism, the former Celtic skipper replied: “No. Not all. I didn't think it was harsh. It was the way I saw it.

“I am pretty good with the players when they perform well and if they don't perform the way we expect them to I have every right in pointing that out. I can't pull the wool over people's eyes and I am not prepared to do that.

“We had a meeting on Monday. We analysed the game and we closed the door on that and moved on. They are a lot better today.

“There were a few things that cleared the air but it was no different from any other meeting had after a poor result. We didn't take our chances but the overall performance was okay.”