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Neil Lennon must rein in his touchline behaviour, say former Celtic stars

 

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Hibernian manager Neil Lennon (Robert Perry/PA)

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon (Robert Perry/PA)

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon (Robert Perry/PA)

Neil Lennon must consider his touchline behaviour in light of Wednesday evening's unsavoury scenes at Tynecastle, according to two former Celtic players.

The Hibernian boss and Celtic hero was struck by a coin thrown from behind the dug-outs after Hearts had a potential injury-time winner ruled out by the match officials in the Edinburgh derby.

Lennon reacted by turning to face the Hearts support in celebration and seeming to gesture for the fans to sit down.

He was then struck by the coin before falling to the crowd and holding his face.

Gary Caldwell and John Collins both agree that the Lurgan man's touchline behaviour should be altered.

“I think he brings a lot of it on himself," Caldwell told the BBC, in comments that he would later clarify on Twitter.

“Whoever throws something from a stand should be ejected immediately but Neil Lennon was goading the fans as that goal got disallowed. As managers, coaches, players, we have to have a level of professionalism to not incite that and I think at times he does.”

Caldwell later took to Twitter to clear up any misunderstanding caused by his remarks.

“Just to clarify what I said tonight I said because I am a former team mate of Neil and like him a lot and I fear one day he could be seriously hurt by one of these idiots," he said. “I don’t condone the fan in any way and hope that the authorities punish them as severely as they can.”

Collins, who played for Celtic between 1990 and 1996 and served as Ronny Deila's assistant manager at the club between 2014 and 2016, agreed that, while Lennon should shoulder no blame for being hit with a coin, he should adjust his behaviour during matches.

"You can't blame Neil Lennon for somebody throwing something at him, that's a disgrace but probably Neil does have to relax and forget," he told Talksport. "Don't face the supporters but it's difficult when they're abusing him for 90 minutes, as they do at Tynecastle.

"You can't blame Neil. It's a crazy fan behind the dugout who has to be ejected from the stadium and not allowed back in."

There was also an incident on Wednesday night which saw Hearts keeper Bobby Zlamal apparently punched by a supporter.

Collins played for and managed Hibernian and explained the fierce rivalry that exists between the two clubs in the Scottish capital.

"They're very similar to the Old Firm games, only obviously it's a smaller crowd," he said. "The thing I will say about Tynecastle, it's probably the tightest ground in Britain. The fans are probably the closest to the players at any football stadium, which I love and ask any football player, they love (it).

"What it does give access to are idiots close to the players and as we saw last night, they get too close sometimes. It's an absolute disgrace, we've got to find the supporters and they've got to be exposed, banned for life. Set an example, not a season, banned for life."

Belfast Telegraph