Neil Lennon has spoken to the official Celtic website, giving his recollections of his infamous post-match rant after Celtic were knocked out of the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage by Ross County during his first stint as interim manager.
Lennon’s managerial career began with a 3-1 victory over Kilmarnock and 1-0 win away at Hibs, but if he though life in management was easy, he was quickly brought back to earth. The Hoops were stunned at Hampden in his third game in charge, when goals from Steven Craig and Martin Scott handed First Division, Ross County, a fine win and their first appearance in a major final, while Celtic went on to win their remaining league matches despite falling well short in the race for the title.
Reflecting on a decade since he first became Celtic boss, Lennon told the club’s website: “It was off the back of Tony leaving, and I had to very quickly assemble a team together as well. We just had to get an improvement in the team, get some wins and boost the morale of the players and the supporters as well. It was so different from the second time taking over last year, where everything was so successful. It was the polar opposite, where we were struggling, we were inconsistent and the league had already, more or less, gone.”
Lennon was a winner in his playing career and his no nonsense charisma in the football realm means it’s no surprise that he gave his players a severe dressing down after the defeat. “I was just very angry with the players,” he said. “They didn’t show the right attitude on the day and it was only my third game in charge. We’d beaten Kilmarnock and then Hibs, and then it was the semi-final at Hampden against Ross County. There was a lack of application and attitude on the day, and I came out and said some really strong words, but I meant it, and it seemed to have the desired effect for the rest of the season.”
Lennon was appointed permanent manager in the summer, given his 100% record in the league. He came within a point of the title the following season and has led Celtic to eight trophies overall so far. That day at Hampden is long forgotten, especially as the Irishman has since won at the stadium to bring home a treble-treble, and set up the quadruple treble.