NEIL Lennon has issued a stinging rebuke to Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels as the controversy over PFA Scotland’s Player of the Year nominees’ list rumbles on.
After Lennon hit out at the omission of all his Celtic players from the four-man list which was announced last week, his fellow Northern Irishman Shiels responded by branding the Parkhead club “Paranoid FC”.
Lennon hit back yesterday, comparing the often outspoken Shiels to the pompous comedy character David Brent made famous by Ricky Gervais in The Office.
“Kenny has always had plenty to say about our club,” said Lennon. “He just likes to ramble on in little monologues. He’s a bit like David Brent sometimes. He’s an unconscious comedian.
“I do take exception to the ‘Paranoid FC’ comment. That has been thrown at our club for the last 15 or 20 years but I think the last three or four years have proved we are not paranoid, we are just right.
“Nothing surprises me from Kenny. He has had a couple of barbed pops at the team and the club over the past few years. I don’t know if he has a personal agenda against us. You will need to ask him that.
“I don’t really have much to do with him. I do my job and he has got to do his, although he does seem to have an opinion on everybody else’s job.”
Lennon’s already-crowned SPL champions lost 3-1 to Motherwell at Fir Park yesterday and there was a degree of irony in Michael Higdon, one of the four Player of the Year candidates, scoring the home side’s second goal from the penalty spot.
But the Celtic manager, who had declared that none of Higdon, Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths, Aberdeen forward Niall McGinn and Inverness midfielder Andrew Shinnie would earn a place in his team, stood by his criticism of the PFA Scotland voting process.
“I think all of the candidates have had fine seasons and I am not trying to take the gloss away from those players,” said Lennon. “That was not my intention at all. My bone of contention is how none of our players are in the running for it.
“I like Higdon and he is a real handful, but while he got his goal from the penalty spot today, I didn’t think he really troubled us. I thought we handled him well.”
Lennon was not overly concerned by Celtic’s defeat on a day when Kelvin Wilson, Efe Ambrose, Joe Ledley and Kris Commons were among those rested as he rotates his squad ahead of the Scottish Cup final against Hibs at Hampden on 26 May.
“These games at the moment are a trade-off,” added Lennon. “We are forward planning for the cup final and there will be another five players getting away tomorrow on holiday for a week to ten days. I’ve got to do it because they are not going to have a summer and we are back in for pre-season in the third week of June to get ready for the Champions League qualifiers in July. I will have everybody back for the St Johnstone game on 11 May and that should give us enough time to prepare for the cup final.
“I’m disappointed to lose today but I thought we dominated the first half and should have been a couple up but we came in level at 1-1. I didn’t think it was a penalty for their second goal. I thought it was more accidental than anything else and Higdon also looked offside when the cross came in for their third goal.
“Going forward, I thought we were very good and I thought we deserved more out of the game. But our problems were not going forward. I thought we were a bit shaky at the back again.”