McInnes on Lennon: “He has been a bit of a punchbag for others”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has been speaking about his friend Neil Lennon who this week lost his job as Celtic manager. So instead of coming up against Lennon again on Saturday for their latest battle either as players or managers, McInnes – who himself has been under pressure this season from his own support – will instead be taking on a Celtic side led for the first time by new Interim Manager John Kennedy.

“I class Neil as a friend and a colleague, we work in the same industry and we have faced each other many times as a player and as a manager. He is someone that I have a very high regard for,” McInnes told the official Aberdeen FC website.

“It is very disappointing to see any manager lose their job. I know how important the Celtic job was to Neil. I am disappointed for him.

“He is a very successful Celtic manager. This season he has been a bit of a punchbag for others and he has had a lot of criticism that has come his way. When you see the points difference between Celtic and Rangers, it is more than just a manager who is at fault.

“Time will be kind to Neil, it might not be that now. There are a lot of people who have gotten themselves in a real state this season, the 10-in-a-row thing comes into that but Neil has been a very successful manager in both spells.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“In time, even people who have been heavily criticising Neil will see the merits in what he has achieved.

“Neil’s a good manager and he will go on and show someone else he is a good manager.”

“He has been a very successful manager in both his spells at Celtic,” McInnes concluded.

“When you sign up to be a manager you have got to expect a level of criticism when your team doesn’t win. On the flip side of that when you win games, and you are getting praise it can be a bit overboard and I try to keep a balance on it.

“I get asked a lot more questions about the outside pressures than I do on the game now. All we can do is trust how we work, have good staff and work with your players to try and keep those times to a minimum. Management is not always a bed of roses, if it was everyone would sign up for it.

Photo: Andrew Milligan

“I speak to managers who managed in the previous era quite a bit and I do think that they look on in astonishment to what we have to contend with now in the modern day. It is outside pressures and that is what you have to remind yourself of. The job is still the same, you are still working with players to improve them, get your club as competitive as possible and try to be as successful as you can and win as many games as you can.

“It is the other stuff that has changed in the last wee while and you can’t affect that, you just have to deal with what you can deal with.”

McInnes then turned his attention to the game at the weekend, the second trip to Celtic Park in quick succession thanks to the intervention of the First Minister at the start of the season. Celtic and Aberdeen had to wait six months to play the game she postponed when issuing the Scottish game with a yellow card. Nothing to worry about if you have a Covid breach coming out of Ibrox – one of the party goers last week came off the bench at Ibrox this evening and scored in their Europa League win just over a week after being caught at a party in breach of the Government restrictions and issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice by Police Scotland.

Nothing doing if you are waiting on any punishment or specific comment from either the Scottish Government (at least they never COMMENDED theRangers this time) or the corrupt Scottish FA.

Didn’t Celtic and Aberdeen get fined and players banned for breaching the same rules?

Anyway on the Celtic v Aberdeen game at the weekend the Aberdeen manager had this to say.

“The last time against Celtic we were disappointed not to get something from the game, the performance merited something from the game.

It came down to small margins, it was a brilliant strike from, Turnbull, it wasn’t even half a chance, he has got the quality. We felt that we dealt with their forward players well throughout the majority of the game but that one moment separated the teams,” McInnes stated.

Photo: Andrew Milligan

“We felt that we should have got a penalty kick and these fine lines can sometimes be the difference. The performance was good. We took the positives from that into Saturday’s game which we won. It is unusual to play the same opposition so quickly. No two games are ever the same, Neil won’t be in the opposition dugout, but it is the same challenge for us to overcome which is a talented Celtic team.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“We are all about trying to win the game on Saturday. Between now and the end of the season is the business end of the season. We are going to have to try to get more wins to fulfil our objectives and that is what we are concentrating on.

“We are playing against a talented Celtic team; we have got to be aware of their strengths. Anytime that you go to Glasgow to face the Old Firm (sic) you really have to concentrate on your own performance and that is what we are trying to do is deliver a big performance from us that will give us the positive result that we are looking for.

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

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