FORMER Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels was often at loggerheads with fellow Irishman Neil Lennon during his time at Rugby Park.
Shiels branded Celtic manager Lennon as being paranoid, while the latter compared the former to David Brent from The Office last season.
However, Shiels now believes that Lennon should become a knight of the realm after persuading Southampton to part with £12.5 million for midfielder Victor Wanyama, claiming that Celtic are better off without the Kenyan – in every way.
“Any time we played Celtic I would tell our lads not to worry about him being on the ball because he doesn’t keep it very well,” he said.
“To my mind, Neil Lennon deserves a knighthood for getting someone to pay £12.5m for him. We found that, when you gave him space, he just didn’t have the natural instincts to know what to do with the ball.
“We would press players like Joe Ledley and Charlie Mulgrew but we just dropped off Wanyama and, most of the time, we got the ball back from him.
“Celtic have made a big financial gain from his transfer but I don’t think that they’ve been weakened in a footballing sense.”
Lennon’s team lost all four games in a jittery German tour, during which Celtic lost 12 goals, but Shiels argues that could prove to be a plus as they get ready to take on Cliftonville at Solitude tomorrow night.
“Those results will help Celtic,” he said. “The defeats will have sharpened them up mentally.
“Neil’s players had a lot of success last season, winning the title and the Scottish Cup and reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.
“But these results will have brought them back down to earth and, as a result, I don’t imagine there will be any complacency in the ranks when they face Cliftonville.
“This isn’t a game they will be looking forward to. It would be great for the game in Northern Ireland if Cliftonville could beat them but I expect Celtic will go through.”
However, Shiels also expects Tommy Breslin’s part-timers to make it difficult for Celtic in Belfast.
“They’ll treat the home leg like an away leg and try and counter-attack,” he said. “Their main aim will be to keep the tie alive by the time they go to Parkhead.”