Neil Lennon says Dermot Desmond hasn't kept him in Celtic post as reaction to fan protests

Neil Lennon says Dermot Desmond (left) and Peter Lawwell  recognise his durability (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)Neil Lennon says Dermot Desmond (left) and Peter Lawwell  recognise his durability (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Neil Lennon says Dermot Desmond (left) and Peter Lawwell recognise his durability (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Neil Lennon says it is “rationale” and not a desire to act “in spite” of an insurrectionist Celtic support that lies behind his continued backing from Dermot Desmond and the club board.

Celtic’s largest shareholder and ultimate authority was predicted to refuse to serve up Lennon to fans demanding his removal in protests that descended into violent skirmishes with police in the aftermath of Sunday’s League Cup loss at home to Ross County.

However, Lennon maintains it is not that but the belief Desmond, chief executive Peter Lawwell and the Celtic board retain in his ability to haul the team out of their present mire that accounts for his remaining in post despite a horrendous run of only two wins in 10 games.

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Asked if he had been given any assurances about his future by Desmond, the billionaire offering support for him along with Lawwell in a zoom meeting between the trio at the end of last week, the Celtic manager said: “We talked about it on Friday and we’ve talked about it since then. You know, he [Desmond] bases his decisions on rationale, on values, on durability. He doesn’t make knee-jerk reactions either. And neither do the board. It’s not a question of ‘we’re keeping Lenny in the job in spite of everybody.’ They’re keeping me in because they know I can do the job to the standards we set last year. Hopefully we can find that standard again this year.”

Even deep down Lennon says he didn’t assume he would be sacked on Monday, but recognises it could have happened under a more fairweather board.“I wasn’t expecting it, no. But I could have been. I could have been,” he said. “I am very grateful [for the board’s support]. I’m grateful that they gave me the opportunity the first time, and they’ve given me the opportunity again. They know what I’m capable of.

“But this club doesn’t sack managers just for the sake of it. They think about it deeply by looking at the philosophy. I’d say we haven’t moved on from last season in terms of performances and results. Not every season is the same and we’re going through a difficult spell. The board are being very, very patient with that as well and from my point of view that’s comforting.”

Lennon is struggling to catch a even break right now owing to the fact that he will attempt to spark a revival of a side he has led to four trophies in two years – with the opportunity to bring up a quadruple treble in this month’s Scottish Cup final – against Serie A leaders AC Milan at the San Siro.

In normal circumstances, the Europa League group encounter would have constituted a game of little importance with qualification hopes gone. Players would have been rested for the far more important Premiership fixture at home to St Johnstone on Sunday in such a scenario, but that appears too risky now.

‘We will make a couple of changes from the weekend, but we won’t make wholesale changes. I want to put out as strong a team as possible,” he said. “I want us to perform and have that belief and energy. I want us to take the shackles off and play like we can.”

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