Friday 20 April 2018

Lennon targets improvement after crushing European exit

Roddy Forsyth

While Rangers have yet to begin their European campaign, Celtic's is over, almost before it had begun.

The abject manner of the Hoops' collapse against Utrecht in the return leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday was a severe setback for Neil Lennon, who yesterday confessed: "I am very raw and very, very disappointed.

"We were pretty average in all departments and we have to learn from that very quickly indeed. A lot of the players are new to the club but that's no excuse. They are better than they showed in Utrecht.

"We had nine international players in the team and it was pretty close to the team that won 2-0 in the first leg. In the space of a few days a team that was full of confidence, vigour and quality became one which was basically a very distracted outfit.

"Athleticism and speed and quality can't just go away in that time, so it must be a mental thing.

"The bulk of the responsibility stops with me and I will analyse my performance, too. I set a team out to compete and get a result and we failed.

"I'm fed up with coming back from Europe with our tails between our legs."

Celtic travel to Motherwell tomorrow but Marc Antoine Fortune will not be with them, having been transferred to West Brom on a two-year deal.

Motherwell, who have been slogging through Europa League qualifying rounds since mid-July, are now also relieved of that responsibility and manager Craig Brown said: "We've had six games in Europe and two in the league but now I've told them the SPL starts on Sunday.

"Celtic here is the start of the season and we've got to get back into this level of competition. It's the best game after our disappointment.

"We haven't got the resources to make many changes but I thought our level of fitness was great. I was so pleased with the performance and attitude." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Motherwell v Celtic ,

LIVE, ESPN, tomorrow, 12.0

Irish Independent

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