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Critics aren't giving me enough credit for Celtic record: Lennon

 

Hitting back: Neil Lennon has come out on the defensive
Hitting back: Neil Lennon has come out on the defensive

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon has robustly defended his "overlooked" record at Celtic following increased negativity in the wake of Sunday's 2-0 defeat by Rangers.

The Old Firm loss at Ibrox was the Ulsterman's first in 12 matches since he was brought in until the end of the season after Brendan Rodgers suddenly left for Leicester in February.

The former Parkhead captain, coach and manager had already guided the Hoops to the Premiership title, their eighth in succession, but fans are still split over whether or not he should be given the job permanently.

The champions will collect their trophy at Sunday's home game against Hearts and they have the chance to achieve an unprecedented domestic triple treble when they take on the Jambos in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on May 25.

Speaking at the club's Lennoxtown training complex, the former Bolton and Hibernian boss did not categorically say he wanted the Celtic post on a full-time basis again, but said: "There is no evidence to suggest I can't take the job on.

"I have been here since 2000. In that time Celtic have won 14 league titles and I have played a part in 10 of them, so I think I know how to win titles here.

"I think that gets overlooked. If we win the Cup, that will be my seventh Cup, and any time we lost the league that I've been involved in it was on the last day.

"Any time we have won the league as a player, coach or manager, we have skooshed it.

"I would say to those who maybe doubt my credentials, they are there in black and white and stand up to anybody who has worked here before.

"I shouldn't have to re-emphasise that, but I will just to let people know there is no evidence for me to think I can't do the job.

"We won the league comfortably, we didn't stutter over the line as one journalist said.

"We have won the League Cup and are in the Scottish Cup final.

"What more can the players do? All those who are criticising should take a step back and say: 'You know what? This is special'."

Lennon, who revealed 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele could make his first-team debut on Sunday as he rests players for the final, spoke of a "new breed" of Celtic fans taking the club's current success for granted.

"I think there is a new breed of supporters," he said. "Since 20 years ago, the only thing they have seen is success. They don't remember the 1990s.

"I can't take it for granted. They might. That comes from an immaturity from their point of view."

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