CELTIC manager Neil Lennon accused some of his players of performing as if “tapped up” and having their “minds with other clubs” after a 3-2 loss in the Highlands against Ross County that made for their second consecutive Scottish Premier League away defeat.
As with the reverse against Motherwell, Lennon questioned his players’ commitment in unforgiving fashion, even in acknowledging the possible adverse impact of injuries and tiredness in the wake of their midweek Champions League trip to Turin. Nothing excused the squandering of a two-goal advantage inside six minutes late in the first half.
“I am not happy with some of the attitude of the players,” Lennon said. “Some of them look as if their minds are away elsewhere, maybe at other clubs. I don’t know if they’ve been tapped up and don’t know where they are mentally. But you can tell by their body language that they’re not with us at the minute. So I’ll have to sort that out.
“These players owe me. We have pulled them out of places no-one had heard of and put them in the shop window. I want payback now.
“It has been simply not good enough. If they want to go they just have to knock on my door and say: ‘Look, I want to go.’ I’ll leave them out and play someone else who wants to be here.
“Looking at that today I was bitterly disappointed with the second half. I’ll make changes. We lacked men and we’ll have to get some men here.
“We’ve had a long week, we didn’t have a day to prepare because we had a four-hour drive after coming back on Thursday, so there are mitigating circumstances for a bit of lethargy. We had nine out and no full-backs, so I had to go with a back three. What you can’t lack is character and we did in several departments, so I’m angry about that.
“We should have been 4-2 up at half time – we missed two great chances. Then they got a huge slice of luck with the one their keeper saved and it hit the bar off the defender. You can legislate for their first goal, but the second and third goals we lost were comical. We looked leggy at the back, I don’t know if it was down to a bit of fatigue. We have lost the last two away games to really poor performances.”
Lennon, pictured, was without Victor Wanyama, Adam Matthews, Emilio Izaguirre and Georgios Samaras because of injury while he excluded striker Gary Hooper from blame. Celtic are 15 points ahead in the SPL, but Lennon had urged his team to wrap up the title as soon as possible.