Neil Lennon remains defiant and says Celtic's problems are 'psychological' after second Sparta slamming

Neil Lennon refused to consider his position as Celtic manager might be under greater threat following yet more punishment for impoverished defending with a second 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague inside 22 days.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon retains belief in his ability to turn things around after another grim 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague (Photo by Michal Cizek / AFP) (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty Images)

The loss, which ends any potential for Celtic to progress from Group H, will be considered the point at which his own tenure should come to a halt by an incandescent support. The ghastly recent run stretching to two wins in nine games that have witnessed 20 goals conceded changes nothing for Lennon about his belief in effecting the dramatic upswing required.

Asked about boiling-over fears from Celtic’s fanbase their club’s 10-in-a-row quest, that sees the Scottish champions trail Rangers by 11 points, will disintegrate without change in the coaching staff he sought to remain upbeat. “People have their fears,” said Lennon, who could not survive any slip in Sunday’s League Cup tie at home to Ross County.

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“We are bitterly disappointed with the run that we are on. But we know we have the minerals to turn it around. And we know we have to turn it around quickly, but it’s something that is not going to happen overnight. The league is the priority. We have a League Cup game at the weekend. We have to defend that trophy then look forward to a run of games in the league and bring a bit of confidence and momentum.

“That’s what we are lacking at the minute. It’s been very stop start. We are looking a bit disjointed as a group. We need that unity back because they proved to me last season that they can do it. Nothing has changed other than living conditions and training conditions as well.

“We have to look at the good things that happened tonight as well - because there were a lot of good things about the way we played. I didn’t think we deserved to lose 4-1. I thought we scored a great early goal. I was really disappointed with the first and second goals but I thought after half-time, for 35 minutes we were superb.

“It’s psychological, for me, rather than a physical thing. We just have to work on that side and breed a bit of confidence into them. They’re going to get criticised from all quarters so the last thing they need is extra criticism from any of us on the coaching staff. We have to cajole them through it and put in a good performance at the weekend.

“Of course I [have the confidence I can turn this around]. I know this group better than anybody. Look, at the end of last year we lost to Rangers and everyone was writing us off. We were getting slaughtered from all and sundry, whether it was our own supporters or everyone else in the game saying the league was over. So we’ve been here before.

“We put a great run together in the second half of last season and we can do that again. This feels a little bit different - that we have a bit more work to do - but we’re still quite confident we’ll turn it around. We’ve got a lot of work to do catching up in the league but it’s not beyond us. Far from it.”

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