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I have coping mechanisms, I know how to deal with it - Lennon

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: Getty Images

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: Getty Images

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: Getty Images

With no prospect of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Europa League, it was Neil Lennon's unenviable task to fly out with his dispirited players yesterday for this evening's tie with AC Milan.

Celtic are adrift at the foot of Group H with a single point from a possible 12, and it could be conjectured that this expedition is replete with hazard for a manager currently under unremitting pressure.

Lennon, though, has endured dark passages of a far more daunting sort, the experience of which has buttressed his morale after a sequence in which Sunday's defeat by Ross County in the Scottish League Cup meant that Celtic had lost four successive home games for the first time since 1958.

The Northern Irishman has previously spoken of his struggles with depression, the contest which will always be foremost among his priorities.

"I've got coping mechanisms. I know how to deal with it," he said.

"I've had it in varying times and spells in my life and career and there are no warning signs at the minute at all. I'm living healthy, living good.

"It's a results-driven business and results haven't been what they should be. You have to bear that responsibility."

Target

In addition to the sequence of results which have killed Celtic's European hopes, seen them fall 11 points behind Rangers - with two games in hand - and come to the end of a run of 35 undefeated cup games, Lennon was the principal target of the flash mob which gathered outside Celtic Park after the Ross County tie and had to be dispersed by police, who had metal fencing thrown at them.

Nevertheless, he was adamant that his continued tenure is not a consequence of distaste for Sunday's violent scenes on the part of the club's biggest shareholder, Dermot Desmond.

"We talked about it on Friday and we've talked about it since," Lennon said. "You know, he bases his decisions on rationale, on values, on durability. He doesn't make knee-jerk reactions. It's not a question of 'we're keeping Lenny in the job in spite of everybody'.

"They're keeping me in because they know I can do the job to the standards we set last year. Hopefully, we can find that standard again this year. I want us to take the shackles off and play like we can. We are going to the San Siro, so it's a game of great significance and we want to do the fixture justice and come away with a result. We will make a couple of changes from the weekend, but they won't be wholesale changes. I want to put out as strong a team as possible."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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