'He lacked in all three' - Celtic boss Neil Lennon hits back at Maurice Ross over criticism
And Lennon revealed that Fir Park manager Stephen Robinson had been in touch to apologise for the remarks made by the member of his backroom staff.
The former Rangers defender has already found himself in hot water with St Mirren’s general manager Tony Fitzpatrick over his suggestion that clubs could game the Covid-19 regulations in order to have games postponed if understrengthed – on the back of a string of positive cases that prevented the Paisley club being able to fufil their fixture against Motherwell on Saturday.
Now Ross has raised the hackles of Lennon too over his claims on the same programme that the starting XI Lennon fielded in the 2-0 defeat by Steven Gerrard’s men on Saturday “was probably the weakest I’ve seen from them in 20 years”. He did so before going on to say that Celtic’s 3-5-2 formation “played into Rangers’ hands”.
Ross also questioned why Leigh Griffiths and Albian Ajeti were only able to feature as second-half substitutes in the derby, appearing to overlook the injuries both have suffered in the early part of the campaign.
“Griffiths, struggling for fitness? How long does he take to get fit that boy, Ajeti?” Ross said “It takes you six weeks to get fully fit, but pre-season is normally four weeks and we are four months into it now. How can you not be fit? What are you doing?" In a further coruscating assessment, he also took issue with the fact that Scott Brown required to “drop in to take the ball off a £40,000-a-week [centre-back]” and so leave Rangers “in full control, in a reference to the club’s on-loan Brighton defender Shane Duffy.
The Celtic manager was withering over such criticism having been delivered by a fellow coach in the Scottish game. “There is a professional standard, a professional etiquette, a professional respect and I think Maurice was lacking in all three of those,” said Lennon.
“I was surprised and very disappointed. Stephen Robinson contacted me to apologise profusely. He found it embarrassing. I think Motherwell, as a club, have really good people there and they found it embarrassing as well. And to be honest with you I found the comments embarrassing for Maurice, rather than for anyone else. It’s on him. Stephen [was pretty unhappy] and sometimes you are guilty by association but it’s nothing to do with him.
“He [Ross] is working, he’s an employee of another Premiership team and I don’t think he should be making any comment at all on any other team or any other players. The comments, in particular, on Ajeti, on Griffiths, on the money that Shane Duffy may or may not be on, I think were pretty abysmal.”
Lennon was asked if he felt that Ross should follow Robinson in offering the Celtic manager an apology. He replied: “I don’t think he owes me an apology, I think he owes my players an apology, I think he owes my coaching staff an apology and I think he owes my club an apology. I [also] think he owes his own club, that employs him, an apology.”
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