NEIL LENNON tried to make sense of the worst night of his managerial career which saw his Celtic side crash out of the lucrative Champions League against Cluj at Celtic Park. The manager will be haunted by the memories of this match for a long time to come and seldom can he have picked a team which had the glaring ‘schoolboy’ errors as last night.
McGregor at left back was a disastrous decision – learning nothing from the horrible experience at Ibrox on 29 December, did he even watch that game?
Lewis Morgan being stripped and ready to come on as Celtic are trying to defend a 2-1 lead. What even is the thought process here when the defence was desperately needing help. Before Morgan got on Bain sold a cheap corner and Brown showed the hapless keeper how to handle the ball and the scores were level. The penalty was poorly taken but went under the underperforming keeper.
Lennon had all the pointers from Romania last week and then again at Fir Park to go with Craig Gordon, who will surely now be Celtic’s first pick keeper going forward. Here’s what the shell-shocked manager was saying after last night’s disaster.
“I don’t know where that came from. We weren’t physical or aggressive enough. We certainly didn’t work hard enough to stop crosses or second balls,” Neil Lennon told the media, as reported in Scottish Sun.
“All the nuts and bolts of the game – you’ve got to earn the right to play. We went out and tried to play from the off. We got a warning before the first goal, we didn’t stop a cross and they missed a header far post. You think that’s the warning but then we do the exact same thing again,” he said, failing to recognise that it was the out of position Callum McGregor who was out jumped at the first goal.
“At half-time we got after them a little bit and got the right response but we shot ourselves in the foot with the goals we conceded.
“It’s suicidal the goals we gave away tonight. We had the lead twice and gave it away. The first goal, you are thinking ‘wake-up call’.
“The second one is an individual mistake. The third goal, we’ve got plenty of defenders back but we just let the guy run off us and get a shot away.
“We should have done better with the rebound.
“The fourth goal is academic because we are just throwing everything at them to score again. We had enough chances to win the game but wasted 45 minutes tonight,” the manager continued.
“If we played anywhere near as well in the first half as we did in the second half, we would have been through. To score three goals at home and not win the game, we’ve only ourselves to blame.
“I said to the players at half-time, ‘Look, you are blowing it! You’re playing this game as if it’s a friendly! ‘I don’t know if you are disrespecting the opponent but we’re so flat’.
“I said: ‘This is a Champions League qualifier and at this minute we’re going out of the competition. Is that what you want? You’ve not laid a glove on the opposition for 45 minutes and you are far better than that!’.
“Then of course we come out for the second half and we have cleared off the line. Jozo has a header saved and then we score. I thought we were getting going and when we got the second goal I was thinking it would settle us. But obviously their second goal gave them a big impetus again.
“We all wanted Champions League football and we have only ourselves to blame for not getting that. We’ve been loose and in important moments of the game we have switched off.”
Also on The Celtic Star….
Trending? #lawwellout – these Celtic fans have had enough of Peter Lawwell…see HERE.
‘I’m sorry,’ Scott Brown admits mistake after liking post ‘slagging’ Neil Lennon and takes blame for not performing against Cluj…see HERE.
Sandman’s Definitive Ratings – Celtic v Dracula’s XI, no Zadok The Priest…see HERE.
Celtic 3 Cluj 4 – Accident Waiting all Summer to Happen…see HERE.