Sunday 18 February 2018

Lennon praises Brown influence

Celtic 3
Kilmarnock 1

Roddy Forsyth

RANGERS are four wins from their second successive championship as Celtic begin life under Neil Lennon with the knowledge that four consecutive victories is as much as they have been able to achieve -- and that only once -- throughout the season.

In the wake of Tony Mowbray's departure Lennon had identified Celtic's prime weakness as an inability to kill games within their control and, although he expressed gratitude for the two Robbie Keane goals on Saturday, he was particularly animated by the strike by Scott Brown.

The Celtic captain's goal was the first from a central midfield player this season. "They're a dying breed, goalscoring midfielders and he's one that can get beyond the back four and get beyond the strikers and get into the box because he's got the legs," said Lennon.

"I told him, 'Pick and choose your moments when you can'. The opportunity came with the breakaway. He laid it off to Aiden (McGeady) and kept going and got his just reward.

"Sometimes you can have a wee bit much of a muchness. We have enough players who are comfortable on the ball. I need somebody who can break away from midfield.

"You can't do it all the time and I'm not expecting him to do it every single week but I am expecting more of that from him, like (Stiliyan) Petrov used to do -- he was a class player who could guarantee you 10 or 11 goals a season and in the modern game that's priceless.

"He was on his game against Kilmarnock. I just want him to do that -- if he has space to get into, drive in with the ball, because he's got pace.

"I want him to be a wee bit more assured on the ball but I couldn't have asked any more from him. I thought it was a really good performance. I thought the back four were excellent as well."

The victory was crucial for Lennon in his first game in charge as caretaker manager. He has given his players a couple of days off and will muster them tomorrow to begin preparations for the trip to Easter Road on Sunday, by which point Rangers may have extended their lead to 16 points.

"I don't want to have too many meetings with the players because you can fill their heads with too much stuff. I had a brief chat with them and named the team and that was it. I just let them get on with it.

"I've got some good talented players here and I just wanted them to be brave -- brave in the tackle and brave on the ball. The crowd were great, through the spell of not much happening in the first half and then in the second half I think they thoroughly enjoyed the game."

Andreas Hinkel, meanwhile, takes the view that Mowbray was too nice as an Old Firm manager.

"Tony was a good guy. He was honest but maybe he was too good -- too nice," said the German full-back. "He was maybe even too honest at the beginning when he said what he thought. Sometimes in this business you shouldn't be so honest. I think he was a good person and was someone who wanted to do all he could for the club.

"I think he is a good manager but it didn't work. Thursday was a difficult day. The decision was made very quickly by the club and if you know the rules in football it's always the manager who pays.

"Sometimes it's **** because we are the players and we need do our work. It's just the easiest way to change the manager. Neil has only been in charge for one day but most of the players know him already.

"I don't think you can have a big influence if you have been there for one game, but when there is a change of manager it's always the same -- at the beginning it's a new situation for every player."(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Naylor, Thompson, O'Dea, N'Guemo, Brown, McGeady, Keane, Samaras, Fortune (Rasmussen 83)

Kilmarnock: Bell, Clancy, Wright, Ford, Bryson, Kelly (Hamill 71), Severin, Russell, Kyle, Burchill (Fowler 20), Maguire (Invincibile 46).

Irish Independent

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