Scottish Premiership

Lennon may rue poor displays as Celts close in on title

Neil Lennon


Frustrated: Neil Lennon (pic: SNS Group)


Interim Celtic boss Neil Lennon may be undefeated since replacing Brendan Rodgers but it remains to be seen whether he is doing enough to convince the board to hand him the job on a permanent basis.

The Hoops’ 0-0 draw against Hibs at Easter Road was the third such stalemate in Lennon’s nine games in charge since his arrival in February.

He was brought in following Brendan Rodgers’ exit with the specific task of delivering an eighth successive league title and is on course to do just that with Celtic nine points clear of Rangers with just four matches left to play.

Four more points will see mission accomplished but Lennon, in his second spell in charge, must be fearing his chances of landing the job permanently are receding with every poor performance from his players.

“Regardless of whether I’m here or not, they should be focusing. I’m here to help them get over the line,” he said.

“There are things, aspects of the game I don’t like and I’ll tell them that.

“They’re on the cusp of something very, very special. They can play better than what I saw, that’s for sure. Are we dragging our heels a little bit? I don’t know.

“The last two league results, 0-0 draws – that’s not good enough. We’re back to bad habits again and not being physical enough and being lazy; not stopping crosses or getting close to people, standing off the game.

“That’s not what this team or this club is about. It needs to be a much better start going into the upcoming games.

“This is their time, it’s their title to win.

“We’re nine points clear with four games to go, you’d snap your hand off for that at the start of the season.”

Rangers did what they could to keep the pressure on at the top, sweeping Hearts aside 3-1 at Tynecastle – a seventh successive win over the Edinburgh club.

Steven Gerrard's game plan worked a treat against Maribor
Easy win: Steven Gerrard (pic: SNS Group)

It could have been an even heavier defeat for the Jambos and even though they have a Scottish Cup Final to look forward to, the Gorgie faithful were quick to let their feelings be known.

Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke was highly critical of referee Steven McLean after three of his players were sent off in the defeat to Aberdeen at Rugby Park.

“It was the worst refereeing performance I’ve ever seen in my career,” he said.

“Since I’ve been here, he’s always seemed to struggle with Kilmarnock games.

“Maybe, or definitely, that’s because his father was a player here for so many years. Whether he feels the pressure of that, it seems to affect his performance.

“I have mentioned privately that maybe Steven shouldn’t referee Kilmarnock games just to take that burden, that extra pressure, off him. Now I’m saying it publicly.

“I think it would be better for Steven as a referee and for Kilmarnock as club.”

Elsewhere, St Mirren chalked up what could prove to be a vital win over 10-man Livingston, the victory in West Lothian carrying them six points clear of bottom club Dundee, who lost 2-0 at St Johnstone.

SCORES: Hibs 0 Celtic 0, Hearts 1 Rangers 3, Kilmarnock 0 Aberdeen 1, Hamilton 1 Motherwell 1, Livingston 1 St Mirren 3, St Johnstone 2 Dundee 0.

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