Neil Lennon has rounded on sceptics among the Celtic support who are opposed to him being named permanent manager of the Scottish champions, insisting there is “no reason” for anyone to question his credentials for the job.
Despite keeping Celtic firmly on course to win a ‘treble treble’ of domestic trophies this season since taking interim charge in February, Lennon’s future at the club remains uncertain.
His contract expires at the end of this month and he insists he will have no issues with Celtic’s major shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell if they look elsewhere for a longer-term successor to Brendan Rodgers.
But in the wake of criticism from some Celtic fans for the performance and defeat against Rangers at Ibrox last Sunday, Lennon believes the younger generation among them have developed a sense of entitlement as a consequence of the club’s domination of Scottish football in recent years.
“It’s the new age, the new breed,” said Lennon. “If there are doubts that I can do the job, then they are the ones with the doubts, not me.
“Celtic have won 14 league titles since 2000 and I’ve been involved in ten of them as either player, coach or manager. So there’s no reason for me – or anyone else for that matter – to think I can’t do the job going forward. The evidence is there that I quite plainly can.
“But there is a new breed of fan on social networks, it’s not the real world. It’s not my world. I deal in the real world and theirs is a knee-jerk world of unrealistic expectations.
“This is the world we’re living in at the minute. Barcelona could win the double in Spain but a lot of their fans are calling for Ernesto Valverde’s head because they got knocked out in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Expectations, whatever you want to call it, are sometimes unrealistic. But it’s the modern-day fan. It’s fast-food stuff, they want the next thing very, very quickly.
“What the younger generation of our fans shouldn’t take for granted is what these current Celtic players are doing and what they have done.
“It’s remarkable. I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking about a treble treble. The great teams we’ve had over the history of the club never achieved anything like that.
“Winning the treble was like the Holy Grail back in the day. Now these boys have won two in a row and are on the cusp of a third. It’s incredible. So maybe there is a sense of entitlement among the younger fans that we never had before.”
While Lennon appreciates Desmond and Lawwell will be assessing other candidates, he is content they will not be influenced by those Celtic fans who are against his appointment. “Of course they won’t,” said Lennon. “They might have another person in mind which is absolutely fine, I’m totally comfortable with it.
“I’m here until 31 May, we’ll maybe sit down after the Scottish Cup final and discuss my position or what the future holds for me. Until then I’m doing the job I’ve been entrusted with.”
Lennon, meanwhile, confirmed that Kieran Tierney, James Forrest, Mikael Lustig, Jonny Hayes and Odsonne Edouard will all miss Sunday’s final Premiership game against Hearts at Celtic Park because of injury. But he fully expects Tierney and Forrest to be able to play in the Scottish Cup final against the Gorgie side the following Saturday, while the remaining trio will also return to training next week.