Celtic manager Neil Lennon has accused Mark Wotte of being “insecure and paranoid” after the Scottish Football Association performance director hit out at his recent comments on the state of the game.
Wotte said this week he was “stunned” to hear Lennon call for a panel of coaches to be established in order to suggest improvements because Celtic youth chief Chris McCart is on an SFA performance panel.
The Dutchman also said that “not every first-team manager knows what is going on at youth level” and said some “need to educate themselves”.
Wotte was responding to comments made following Scotland’s World Cup exit last month when Lennon had questioned whether the hunger was there from youth to professional level and whether there was enough discipline instilled in youth-team players in Britain’s academies.
Speaking ahead of Celtic’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Dundee United, Lennon said: “I think he got sort of set up by some members of the press and I think he has jumped the gun. However I will take issue with a number of his comments.
“One, I wasn’t talking about the SFA – I was talking about the academy system in Britain, so he needs to look at the quotes before he gets a little bit insecure and paranoid about things. Another point is, I don’t need educating about the Scottish game. I have been here for 13 years at the top end. And I certainly don’t need to know what’s going on at my club because I know it from top to bottom. So maybe Mark should have picked up the phone.
“When I was talking about a panel of people, I was talking about the game in general, not the SFA. I’m well aware Chris McCart is on a panel working with Mark. And I take umbrage with him on the point of facilities. He was saying we get four months of rain and snow.
“Well, we have been having that for 200 years, but 25-30 years ago we were producing (Danny) McGrain, (Kenny) Dalglish, (Gary) McAllister, (John) Collins. My point is why are we not producing those players now?”
Wotte was quoted yesterday as saying: “Lennon said we need a panel of coaches but we already have one. John Collins, Steven Pressley, Chris McCart, Frankie McAvoy, Kenny Shiels and three or four of my staff are there.
“He didn’t even know that his own club’s head of youth was on the panel. I was stunned by that.
“He also said there’s too much talk about facilities and that where Victor Wanyama came from there was none. But you must remember that in Kenya the sun is always shining. We have four months of hail, rain and snow here so we do need better facilities and more 3G pitches. I’m sure he had no bad intentions but people must educate themselves about what is going on.”
Lennon said Wotte was “absolutely” wrong to delve into club affairs. “He has been well-led,” he added.