Celtic boss Neil Lennon forced to relive pain of Clyde defeat

Neil Lennon glares at a ballboy as he walks off the pitch after Celtic suffered a 2-1 Scottish Cup defeat by tomorrows opponents Clyde. Picture: SNS.Neil Lennon glares at a ballboy as he walks off the pitch after Celtic suffered a 2-1 Scottish Cup defeat by tomorrows opponents Clyde. Picture: SNS.
Neil Lennon glares at a ballboy as he walks off the pitch after Celtic suffered a 2-1 Scottish Cup defeat by tomorrows opponents Clyde. Picture: SNS.
He has tried his best to erase it from his memory over the past 14 years but there has been no hiding place for Neil Lennon this week.

Celtic’s fifth-round trip to Clyde in the Scottish Cup tomorrow inevitably takes place amid a nostalgic narrative from the Cumbernauld club’s perspective as their shock 2-1 win over the Scottish champions back in 2006 is widely recalled.

Celtic manager Lennon was at the heart of his club’s midfield on that previous visit to Broadwood, alongside a high-profile debutant by the name of Roy Keane.

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It was an afternoon when Clyde tore up the script in front of a UK-wide media pack who had turned up in North Lanarkshire expecting to see the former Manchester United captain make a serene start to his time at Celtic.

Instead, Keane suffered with the rest of Gordon Strachan’s side in which Chinese defender Du Wei, pictured, also made his first – and what proved to be his last – calamitous appearance for Celtic.

Even now, Lennon is reluctant to dwell for too long on one of the biggest upsets in Scottish Cup history.

“When you lose games like that, your subconscience tries to block it out,” he said. “You try not to remember too much about it. I’ve not got happy memories of it, obviously. It was a sore one. We just didn’t turn up on the day. Clyde were very motivated and deserved to win the game. We were all in a bit of a state of shock in the dressing room afterwards.

“There was a lot of hype about the game in the build-up, with Roy making his debut for Celtic. If you remember, Du Wei made his debut too.

“Things just didn’t work out that day, although that wasn’t the fault of Roy and me. Us playing together at Celtic turned out all right in the end, if you know what I mean. But we just didn’t play at all well as a team that day.

“The aftermath was horrible, just horrible. We even had a meeting back at Celtic Park afterwards and a few things were said. It wasn’t very nice.”

While Lennon is confident Celtic won’t suffer the same fate against Danny Lennon’s League 1 underdogs this weekend, he will be wary when it comes to his team selection as he looks to rotate his squad during their current busy run of fixtures.

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January transfer window signings Patryk Klimala and Ismaila Soro could both be involved. “We don’t want to take any chances but there are a couple of players wanting to play, itching to play, so we will think it over,” he said.

“Personally, I’ve not mentioned that game in 2006 to the players. It was years and years ago. I might bring it up before kick-off, but the way we are playing and with the confidence we are showing, I don’t think it’s really necessary. But it’s realistic that a shock result can happen now and again. I certainly don’t want it to happen to me as a manager. I lost against Morton in the League Cup during my first spell as manager and that was a sore one to take. But as regards Sunday, we will focus on that and be professional and respectful of the opposition. It’s not a foregone conclusion but we are playing well and we want to keep that momentum going.

“There was a huge motivation for Clyde that day 14 years ago and I’m sure it’ll be the same this weekend.

“So we’ll have to be very careful. We just have to pick a decent team and go there and win. We’ll try to rotate the team but not too much. Klimala has a chance of starting, as does Soro, who has been training well. We have a depth of squad now which is good because we’ve had a long, long injury list. Ryan Christie was out for a month but he’s itching to play.

“Mohammed Elyounoussi was in great form before he got injured too and he’s coming back. Jeremie Frimpong won’t be far away and neither will Nir Bitton.

“Tom Rogic has a little bit of a knee problem which flares up after games but we have strength in depth in the squad.

“It’s pretty hectic at the minute with the amount of games. Recovery is important. I thought we played ever so well at Motherwell on Wednesday night, so that in itself will bring confidence to the group.

“We have started the second half of the season really, really well.”