Celtic stars of the past have called for Lennon to go and Lennon’s extraordinary presser continues to ruffle feathers
The fallout from Neil Lennon’s remarkable press conference shows no sign of abating.
His former team-mates John Hartson and Stan Petrov have called on the manager to leave in recent days, and Lennon took the opportunity to respond to Hartson.
Celtic have been eliminated from three competitions so far this season and are trailing Rangers by 21 points in the Premiership, with November’s Betfred Cup exit at the hands of Ross County prompting fan protests outside Celtic Park.
Since then the club have been beaten for the third time in a row by Steven Gerrard’s men and pressed ahead with the PR disaster that was their trip to Dubai, with 13 players as well as Lennon and his assistant John Kennedy subsequently required to self-isolate.
Former Parkhead striker Hartson had told Ten10 Podcasts: “I think a change is needed, the time has come.
“There are fifteen or sixteen games to go and it’s the perfect opportunity for the board to get together and say ‘We need to get this right’.
“They have to give another manager the opportunity to run the club now.
“The club need to put down a statement and say they need to change it, whether Neil goes at the end of the season or he goes now.
“It’s a tough call for me to say it, but it needs done now because it needs fresh faces in there and it needs a new team.
“I send Neil best wishes and good luck every time when he needs it, but to lose a league in such a big, big season like they have.”
Those comments were not appreciated by Lennon, who was quoted by the Scottish Sun as saying: “John has an opinion, like more people on the periphery of the game.
“You either take it on board or you don’t. It has no impact on me. It means nothing.
“When he praises me, it means nothing. When he’s talking about me losing my job or being removed from my post, it means nothing to me.
“But when you are on the media side it’s an easy life.”
Hartson has now admitted to being “hurt and disappointed” by his one-time colleague claiming that his opinion “means nothing”.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, the former Arsenal and West Ham man said: “Neil said my opinion doesn’t matter to him and that’s up to him.
“But I was only giving my honest opinion on how things are at Celtic.
“To be honest, I’m hurt and disappointed that he’s chosen to come out and have a go at me. Listen, he’s clearly a man under severe pressure so it’s maybe understandable.
“He’s only human and it must be difficult to handle everything that’s going on right now. But he’s got to know that I wasn’t having any personal dig at him. Far from it, because I’ve been arguably his biggest supporter down the years.
“The truth is, I’ve given him huge support throughout his two spells as manager.
“In the media, I’ve written countless columns backing him and it’s been the same when I’ve gone on the radio or TV.
“When I speak to fans I’ve always said he’s the right man for the job.
“That’s actually been to my own detriment at times as I’ve come in for some real criticism from Celtic supporters who have often accused me of sticking up for him just because he’s a pal.
“People reckon it’s been an old pals’ act from me. If I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard that a thousand times.”