Lennon won't bow to threats
Hoops boss undaunted by package 'bomb scare'
Published 07/03/2011 | 05:00
Neil Lennon has no intention of leaving Celtic this summer, despite the series of threats made to the Parkhead manager, the latest of which was a parcel addressed to him and which was deemed sufficiently worrying to see the bomb squad summoned to a Royal Mail sorting office in Ayrshire on Friday.
It is understood that, although Lennon -- who was shadowed by a security man at training on Friday -- does not take the alarms lightly, he believes that the team he has built is only at the start of an exciting period which could extend for several years.
Another concern for Lennon was the allegation, made by spectators to police, that he had directed racist remarks to El Hadji Diouf at half-time in last week's Scottish Cup fifth-round replay against Rangers. Lennon's lawyer, Paul McBride QC, vigorously denied the suggestion, which he described as "defamatory and outrageous."
Lennon, who began a four-game ban from the technical area at the 2-0 home victory over Hamilton Academical on Saturday thanks to a double from Kris Commons , was not present at the post-match press conference, which was taken by Johan Mjallby, his assistant. "It was a bit strange not to have Neil beside us," said the Swede.
"Maybe he was a wee bit frustrated sitting up there, but it didn't really change the dynamic. Neil is upbeat. After Wednesday, all we did was concentrate on this game. We kept ourselves and the players focused. Neil is very good at that anyway. He is in a good state of mind, but obviously all the other stuff going on behind the scenes is unacceptable. I know he is probably used to it, but it shouldn't happen.
"Neil hasn't said anything to me about having had enough. He is a strong character and I think he is in this job for the long run."
Mjallby's sentiments were echoed by his fellow countryman, Daniel Majstorovic, who came off at half-time with a toe injury. "The gaffer is an unbelievable coach and what he has done for the club so far is really amazing," said the central defender.
"I haven't noticed any difference in him recently and he still seems exactly the same. He is such a strong person with an unbelievable character.
"I think he has a great future in front of him because he knows what this club needs. He is the right man for Celtic. The possibility of him going is not something we need to think about."
Majstorovic was similarly dismissive of the furore that followed last week's Old Firm game, at which three Rangers players were sent off and Lennon and Ally McCoist, the Ibrox assistant manager, had to be pulled apart at the final whistle. "I haven't wasted any energy thinking about that," he added.
"We played the game, we won the game and that's the most important thing. The decisions taken after the game don't interest me.
"I have not given it much thought. I've experienced a lot worse in Greece where the derbies were something special. The Old Firm is the same. You have all the ingredients, but that is just part of the game."
The visit of the Scottish Premier League's bottom club was always bound to be anti-climactic after the volcanic finale three days previously -- not to mention the draining effect on the Celtic players of their fourth meeting with Rangers this year.
A degree of torpor was evident in Celtic's play and when they failed to mark David Elebert at a corner-kick they were fortunate that the Accies man put his clear header over the top instead of planting it behind Fraser Forster.
Such opportunities are gold dust for a team in Hamilton's position -- bottom of the league, seven points adrift of St Mirren at the start of the afternoon and without a win in the east end of Glasgow for 73 years -- and they themselves were undone at a corner-kick three minutes before the break when Ki Sung-Yeung's delivery was turned into the path of Commons, who crashed his drive from distance beyond Tomas Cerny.
Such hope as Accies could sustain depended on their scoring next, a prospect that was dashed when Simon Mensing struck a lunatic pass across his own box, where the prowling Commons gleefully accepted the gift to beat Cerny again and put an end to the contest as an issue. (© Daily Telegraph, London)