An abrasive approach has been ramped up, wherein under-pressure managers will be bludgeoned with leading questions designed to fracture their composure for the purposes of creating ‘good radio’ – these delivered under the auspices of ‘fans wanting to know’. For the more beleaguered managers, there will be a demand to know if they intend to walk away … as, of course, people in all walks of life in high-paid jobs always do instantaneously when struggling in their employment.
Lennon, Hibs’ Jack Ross and Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes have all been set up in such fashion and the Celtic manager questions the legitimacy of such tactics.
“The interviewing techniques have dramatically changed, particularly this season on certain managers [and] it’s certainly not right,” he said. “Pre-empting answers, being aggressive, talking about people losing their job, pre-empting other people to come in and take over – I think it’s very unfair. It’s not right, it’s not ethical and I don’t think it’s professional, to tell you the truth.
“Interviewers want to be the story rather than the manager who is there defending his team, defending his tactics, defending the result or defending himself. They shouldn’t have to defend themselves all the time when things are not going well. I had a 23-question interview 30 minutes before the Livingston game [at the Tony Macaroni Stadium in January] – 23. Then I was accused of walking away. That created a totally wrong narrative. I was there, answered every question as best I could and still the narrative was: “Oh, he’s stormed off”. It’s absolute rubbish. And nothing gets done about it. What you [journalists] are going to do is end up rubbing people up the wrong way and we’ll end up not speaking to you.”
Celtic’s forlorn pursuit of champions-elect Rangers, currently 15 points ahead with only nine Premiership games remaining, continues against Ross County at Dingwall. Lennon’s men go into the encounter on the back of five straight wins, but all that seems on offer to them is delaying the inevitable. Assuming Steven Gerrard’s men win their next three league outings, Celtic would require to likewise and then overcome Rangers when they visit Parkhead for the final game before the split to prevent a sorry end to a miserable campaign.
“We’re looking at every game on its own merit,” Lennon said. “We’re not setting targets. We’re looking at the next game against Ross County on Sunday. They are fighting for their lives and we can’t afford to drop points. We need to try and keep our run going and not worry about what’s going on elsewhere. If we take it beyond the split, then so be it.
“To be successful here year in, year out you need to be of a certain temperament and be able to take the rough with the smooth. We are seeing that now with the good groove and that takes a bit of character. The players haven’t given up on anything. It is only five games and they are capable of a lot more, so we are looking for a lot more.”