Manager clings to hope CAS will spare his side by expelling Sion on technicality
Lennon gave every impression of that outcome in the aftermath of becoming the first manager of the club to suffer three consecutive first hurdle exits from continental competition on an evening in which Daniel Majstorovic was red carded for a penalty-conceding offence only 44 second in. Lennon maintained that a CAS hearing in Lausanne next week must confirm Fifa’s ruling that Sion are in breach of a ban on player registrations and therefore guilty of fielding ineligible players.
“We have sent in letters last week and today, well handed them to the Uefa delegate, so there’ll be a hearing on Tuesday and we’ll know the outcome after that,” he said.
“If you flout the rules you are call into question the integrity of the game. If clubs are breaking the rules then every club should break the rules.”
Lennon replied “yes” when asked if he would be comfortable with his club taking its place due to Sion listing five players in their European squad in an act the governing body warned them could bring sanctions.
Lennon would not condemn his centre-back Majstorovic for his costly early blunder. He put a wholly positive spin on the 90 minutes in claiming his ten-man side thereafter played “very, very well”, that they were still in the tie, “got the goal we felt would get the result we wanted” in making it 2-1 late on, “but we shot ourselves in the foot” when a Ki Sung-Yueng mistake allowed Sion to add a third.
“Not until I see it again and break it up,” was Lennon response when asked if he was angry with the Swede, and if he had apologised. “I don’t know if he has anything to apologise for. I want to know why a lobbed ball gets in on our keeper so easily.”
Celtic’s travelling support vented their frustrations in the direction of chief executive Peter Lawwell, but Lennon concurred when asked if that was unfair. “It is unfair because Peter Lawwell doesn’t pick the team. He doesn’t play for Celtic.”
Those who did, he would not accept humiliated the club with an away record which is now one win in 30 over the past eight years. “Humiliating is such a strong word, I don’t think it is humiliating. We have to be realistic about things. We are not where we were in terms of European football four or five years ago,” said Lennon.
Lennon said he the club were giving him every “support within their budget” but it was not lost on him that a player he wanted to sign, Pascal Feindouno, netted a clinching double for a team a fraction of Celtic’s size.
“He is a player we had in last year [on trial] but couldn’t afford to get in. It’s not always about size. Sometimes it’s about finances.”
Lennon said he did not fear the togetherness he fostered being lost by a three-game winless run. “I hope it doesn’t. Something we worked very hard on last season. We can only do that putting in good performances at domestic level. If there are some disenchanted supporters, I’ll try to back on side as quickly as possible,” said Lennon who admitted his pride was hurt in the fact he has twice “fallen short” in his attempts to take Celtic into the group stages of the Europa League.
l Daryl Murphy will complete a season-long loan move to Ipswich from Celtic. The 28-year-old striker, who has represented the Republic of Ireland nine times, returns to Suffolk having enjoyed five months on loan at Portman Road from his previous club Sunderland in 2009/10.