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Neil Lennon hits out at Celtic criticism after Europa League exit

Neil Lennon hits out at Celtic criticism after Europa League exit
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Neil Lennon has faced criticism for Celtic's European exit.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon reckons "bonkers" social media has made playing and managing even more pressurised.

Lennon has been at Celtic Park for the bulk of this century over three spells and was used to being the centre of media attention as player and captain, even before first taking over as manager in 2010.

The 48-year-old has clinched three trophies since rejoining the club just over a year ago, and is on course to continue their domestic domination this season. Celtic sit 12 points clear in the Ladbrokes Premiership with a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen to look forward to.

But that did not make him immune from criticism after two sloppy late goals sent Celtic out of the Europa League against FC Copenhagen last week.

Lennon admits the demands at Celtic and Rangers are relentless.

"It's always the case, it's never been any different," he said. "I have been here 20 years in Scotland and it's never changed.

"In fact, if anything it's getting more and more pressurised with the way the media is and social media and analysis. Sometimes it's unrealistic and sometimes the expectations are unrealistic as well.

"It's not just in Glasgow, it's worldwide. People can get very, very personal. They have avenues to get personal with players, managers or whatever through social media. I think that's a very difficult thing for the modern-day player to have to put up with.

"It's bonkers. It's not real. I am so glad I am not on it. I used to be on it years ago but it took up too much of my time."

Lennon, whose team made it 34 consecutive cup wins in domestic football with victory over St Johnstone, added: "We were really disappointed on Thursday night but we put in a really strong performance on Sunday and I think that shows the quality that the team has.

"We are all bitterly disappointed to be out of Europe, we wanted to make inroads after a great group stage, and we just let ourselves down in a couple of moments.

"But over the course of the season the players have been unbelievable. There is no way I would sit there and criticise any individual or the team as a whole because they have been absolutely brilliant and it's totally unnecessary."

Despite European progress, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has found himself under added scrutiny following their cup defeat by Hearts, and admitted on Saturday that he needed a serious think about his team's future.

"I can empathise with him, just because of the pressures the job brings," Lennon said. "But I didn't see his comments so I can't really comment on them."

Celtic can take a major step towards a ninth consecutive title on Wednesday when they travel to Livingston, the venue of their only domestic defeat on the road all season, but have a fitness doubt in defence.

Lennon said: "We are waiting on Kris Ajer to see how he is, he had a bit of a sore thigh."

Meanwhile, Lennon was coy over reports that Celtic are keen to get Odsonne Edouard to sign a new contract.

When asked if he could say anything on French media reports, Lennon said: "I can't. I'd love to but that's from the French side of things and nothing from this side of the water."

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon reacts on February 27, 2020
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