Neil Lennon believes that dwindling attendances for matches at Celtic Park are the reason for the Scottish champions’ indifferent form in front of their own fans this season.
While there is no shame in being held by Benfica, draws with Arbroath, Hibernian and St Johnstone are hardly what is expected from the hosts while home defeats by Kilmarnock and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have bordered on the embarrassing.
Lennon realises that the problem lies within the mindset of his players but points out that the credit crunch has played as big a part as complacency when it comes to those disappointing results.
“What I want to do is improve our performances at Celtic Park,” he said. “Until we lost to Kilmarnock we hadn’t been beaten here in over a year.
“For some reason we’re not piecing performances together on a consistent basis at home yet the Champions League games haven’t been a problem for us.
“So it’s definitely a psychological thing and I’m going to really work on that at training on Friday.
“If they can replicate their display at Kilmarnock against St Mirren, I’ll be delighted with it. I know it’s there. It’s about eking it out of them. I don’t want to make a huge issue out of the home form, but I want us to start putting wins together.
“The atmosphere is different to away games. We have 40-odd thousand season-ticket holders but they aren’t all coming – they can’t afford to.
“If you look at all the top clubs around Europe, it’s the same for them. When I was watching Benfica, they maybe had 30,000 for home games.
“In Italy, you’re seeing half-empty stadiums as well. So it’s not exclusive to us. People just can’t afford it, especially at this time of year. So maybe we need to start the fans going, instead of the fans getting us going.”
Now that the Champions League and the Scottish Cup have been put on the back burner until February, Lennon is sure that the home wins he’s seeking will be found.
“I would like to think we will start being consistent,” he said.
“Playing week-to-week will also give the players a chance to feel fresh again because it has been a heavy schedule and it’s the same over Christmas. We will look to use the squad again.”
Lennon has yet to drop a point [or even concede a goal] to namesake Danny’s St Mirren side since they were appointed to their respective posts in the summer of 2010 and the former believes that the expansive style of play championed by the latter has played a part in that sequence.
“It’s a huge thing for the visiting team coming to Celtic Park and I’m sure Danny’s team will get a lift from it as well,” he said.
“People are talking about his team not having scored against us since I took charge but that can change very quickly.
“I like the way St Mirren play and maybe that’s detrimental to his team against us. But he’s done a good job there and results don’t reflect the players he’s got there.
“That will change as the season goes on.”
Scotland midfielder Kris Commons is likely to miss out again and may also be unavailable for next weekend’s home game against Ross County due to internal bleeding caused by the illegal challenge of Spartak Moscow’s Kim Kallstrom nine days ago.
“Commons is a funny one: the tackle came into his thigh but it’s gone close to the bone,” Lennon explained.