• STV
  • MySTV

Lennon mounts defence against criticism over Cluj result

The Celtic boss said his team selection wasn't the issue in the Champions League defeat.

Lennon called for perspective over the Cluj result.
Lennon called for perspective over the Cluj result. SNS Group

Neil Lennon has accepted the disappointment over his side's defeat in Champions League qualifying but defended himself against some of the criticism aimed at the club.

The Scottish champions were rocked by a 4-3 defeat that sent them into the Europa League play-offs instead of vying for a place in the elite competition. The loss prompted criticism from fans of his team selection and the club's transfer strategy amongst other issues.

The Celtic manager admitted the defeat came as a blow but asked for some perspective on what he felt was a one-off result.

"It's something I've experienced before as a manager and a player," he said.

"We're bitterly disappointed that we've missed out on it.

"We're bullish about things, we still have a lot to play for. We were good enough, the second half performance was outstanding, we started the season so well.

"It's a set-back but we're galvanised and reunited and we'll go again."

Having failed to reach the group stages of the Champions League for a second successive year, some critics have said that the club is no longer of that stature but Lennon took issue with that, pointing out the club's successes.

"I disagree," he said.

"The team has won the treble treble.

"It's been a couple of years now since we qualified for the Champions League but it's a very difficult thing to do. I say the gravitas of the club is still very much geared towards to Champions League.

"We are disappointed because we had the tie in our hands twice. That's a regret and it's one that we let go from an opportunity of strength."

'When we win 7-0 and 5-2 I'm not thinking we're the next big thing and when we lose I'm not too low about it. There has to be a sense of perspective on every game.'
Neil Lennon

Callum McGregor's selection at left back raised questions when the teams were announced on Tuesday, with the Scotland international midfielder played out of position and summer signing Boli Bolingoli dropped. 

Lennon said he didn't think that particular decision cost the team and said that it was a lacklustre performance across the side that had led to defeat.

"I understand that people talk about the team selection but I don't think that had any bearing on the game," he said.

"As a collective we didn't well in the first half but in the second half we were a totally different team.

"We were rampant at 2-1 and just gave Cluj oxygen in the game.

"It's not ideal, obviously. We know what a player he is but a midfield of Ntcham, Brown and Christie is very, very strong. Callum set up the first goal, he also had a shot and played particularly well.

"I don't think he was the issue, our issue was collective and conceding the second and third goals, which were probably of our own doing."

Celtic now face Dunfermline in the League Cup before preparing to face AIK for a place in the Europa League play-off.

While debate rages on about the Champions League defeat, he called for perspective.

"I understand the environment and hysteria," he said.

"It's just a modern day phenomenon and you have to take a step back and detach yourself from it.

"When we win 7-0 and 5-2 I'm not thinking we're the next big thing and when we lose I'm not too low about it. There has to be a sense of perspective on every game.

"Whether people think it's hot air, I'm not big on stats, but possession-wise and I always look at attempts on goal and we were in the twenties on that against the Romanian champions."

The manager also ruled out signing a goalkeeper after Scott Bain sustained a thumb injury, saying he had an able deputy in Craig Gordon and he was hopeful Bain would train next week and not need surgery.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.