‘Cluj will have to play well to beat us,’ Lenny

NEIL LENNON spoke to the Celtic View earlier in the week then today held his usual pre-match Media Conference which you can watch below. Let’s start with what he said to Paul Cuddihy at the star of the week foe the club’s own magazine about the second match of the season against Romanian Champions Cluj. THAT last match remains a major talking point for the manager, his players and indeed the Celtic support.

“We have improved slowly but surely. There are still goals in us but defensively we have more depth as well. Cluj will have to play well to beat us,” Lenny stated.

“If we can get to the levels we know we can get to, it’s going to take a good team to stop us.

“It will be a different defence from the last time because Jozo Simunovic won’t be there and Callum McGregor won’t play at left back while it will be Fraser Forster or Craig Gordon in goal with Scott Bain being out,” he continued.

“Hatem Ebd Elhamed or Kris Ajer might start but we’ll assess that and the likes of Boli Bolingoli, Jullien and Moritz Bauer have all come in and started to show how good they are. We can enjoy the game and hopefully make an impact.”

The opening games in the Europa League Group saw Celtic pick up a point away to Rennes and Cluj surprising top seeds Lazio with a 2-1 home win. The Celtic manager was pleased with the start his side has made.

“We’ve started the group with a really good performance in Rennes and now we need to follow that up with another good performance and a win, but we know that it won’t be easy.

“I’m looking forward to another big European game under the lights. It’s something we can all saviour and there’s maybe a wee extra bit of an extra edge there for the players with what happened previously.

“The tempo of the game will be important. In the first half against Cluj the last time we were passive. We gave then oxygen. If we had played the first half the way we did in the second we would have won.

“Some of the goals we lost were freakish. We handed them a couple of goals at a really important time. We haven’t shown signs of doing that in games before or after. Maybe it just wasn’t our night and we have to accept that, but the reaction since then has been spot on,” Lenny concluded.

And it today’s Media Conference the Celtic manager continued to analyse the previous game against Cluj while looking forward with a great deal of optimism to tomorrow night fixture. You can watch this below, courtesy of Celtic TV. Here are some of the highlights.

1. “We have to try and maximise the home advantage. I’m looking forward to a European night under the lights again. It’ll be a big atmosphere in front of a big crowd and I hope the players connect with that and respond to it.

2. “We know it’s a game that got away from us and there’s always an opportunity in football to right a wrong. We’ve started the group well and it’s important to take the home advantage when we can.”

3. “We can use the last game as motivation but it’s important the players don’t get too over emotional. All in all it’s going to be a tough game but one we’re ready for.”

4. “We’ve been on a good run since then and have more or less won every game. I’m delighted by the reaction, style of play and the motivation the players have.”

5. “We need to start better than we did last time. We weren’t up to our usual standards and we need to address that.”

6. “All teams are able to take points off each other so it’ll be tight. We have to try and maximise the home advantage.”

He also gave an injury update on Johnston, Bitton, Griffiths and Rogic…

“Mikey has trained the last couple of days but may be a doubt to be in the squad. Nir should be okay. Leigh isn’t up to speed yet either so he’ll miss out. We’re waiting to see how Tom is.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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