Grant Holt: Ban won't change Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon sits next to Leeann Dempster after being sent off. Picture: PANeil Lennon sits next to Leeann Dempster after being sent off. Picture: PA
Neil Lennon sits next to Leeann Dempster after being sent off. Picture: PA
Grant Holt claims no-one should expect Neil Lennon to change now after the Hibs manager was sent to the stand during his first competitive match in charge of the Easter Road side.

Lennon has been handed a one-match touchline ban by Uefa for his behaviour during the 1-0 Europa League defeat by Brondby and he will now be suspended for the second leg next week.

The ban will also preclude him from going into the Hibs dressing room before the game and at half-time.

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Holt, 35, knows the older one gets, the harder it is to alter habits of a lifetime. One of Lennon’s traits is a refusal to accept what he interprets as an injustice being visited on his team.

According to Lennon, the latest was Jason Cummings’ 30th-minute goal against Brondby in Thursday night’s second round qualifying tie being chalked off for offside. The Hibs manager complained that nearside assistant referee Miguel Martinez could not possibly have been able to judge the incident since he was not up with the play at the time.

Lennon was sent off for his troubles, just as he was in his first match as Bolton Wanderers manager in October 2014 after leaving his technical area too many times in the 1-0 win over Birmingham City. Thursday night was, however, the first time Lennon has been sent to the stand in a European match.

“He’ll never lose that will he? He can’t help himself,” said Holt, who added that such passion is commendable. “He wants to win, he’s a winner. I’ve sat on the bench and I know you sit there and get frustrated watching the game and watching the officials. I don’t know what he said but it’s good to see as a group that we all want to win.”

According to Holt, where the manager watches the match from is not a major issue.

“The manager has done his job and he’ll set his side out and we all know what to expect,” he said. “It does not matter if he’s stood on the dugout or sitting in the stands, we know what he expects from us as a group. That’s what we work day-in, day-out for.”

Holt also leapt to the defence of goalkeeper Otso Virtanen, whose error after just 17 seconds of his full competitive Hibs debut gifted Brondby what turned out to be the winner in a 1-0 win.

“We’ve all made mistakes,” said Holt. “I’ve made many in my career. It’s just part and parcel of football. We don’t hold anyone accountable. I’m sure in the coming weeks a forward will put it over the bar from a yard and it will be my fault. It’s just football. He dealt with it well and he didn’t go under. As a team we didn’t go under and that’s the measure of people.”

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Hibs will meet Hertha Berlin in the next round of the Europa League if they’re able to pull off a shock by overturning their first leg deficit against Danish side Brondby.

The first leg takes place on 28 July with the return a week later.