Football - Lennon won't be bowed by doom-mongers

Neil Lennon is determined not to be affected by what he claims is the "overwhelming negativity" of Scottish football as his Celtic side surge towards the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

PA Sport
Football - Lennon won't be bowed by doom-mongers
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Manager Neil Lennon feels the negativity around his club can get 'overwhelming'

The Hoops are 19 points clear at the top of the standings and on course to clinch the championship. However, aside from European nights during their journey to the last-16 of the Champions League, in which they play Juventus in Turin next month trying to recover a 3-0 first-leg defeat, Celtic Park has rarely been full this season.

The absence of a league challenge from traditional rivals Rangers, now playing in the Irn-Bru Third Division, has had an effect on attendances and ahead of the visit of bottom side Dundee on Sunday, Lennon was asked about the prospect of crowds dwindling further as the Hoops disappear over the SPL horizon.

The Celtic boss, who reiterated that the first-half performance in the 1-1 draw against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Tuesday night was the best in all his time as manager, said: "Everyone was doom and gloom at the start of the season but it has been a fantastic season for us.

"We have proved all the doom-mongers wrong and there is a lot of negativity in this country, a lot of it, it is overwhelming sometimes. Even when you are doing well....you are so far ahead and it is a one-horse race.

"I can't do anything about it. The reality of my job is to win, develop the players, develop the team and keep it progressing. Why would it be a worry for me when we are 19 points clear?

"There is nothing I can do about that (fans stopping coming), do you want me to stop winning and let the gap close a little bit and make it more exciting? Bayern Munich are 15 points clear in their league, Man United are 12 points clear in their league so why is it just exclusive to us?

"Gates are down all over Europe, there is a recession on and a lot of people are feeling the pinch," added Lennon, who is grateful for the backing his side have received from their fans. "We have a great support and we have had since my time here and before that."

The former Celtic skipper admitted sympathy for former Dundee manager Barry Smith who departed the Dens Park club on Wednesday. He said: "He had a monster task on his hands because he was really recruiting for Division One and then he had to prepare for the SPL.

"So it is has been a difficult ride for him. I was surprised that they sacked him but again, that is Dundee's business. I don't know what goes on behind the scenes there but from the outside it looks harsh."

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