Hibs boss Neil Lennon defends his public tirade at players

Hibernian manager Neil '¨Lennon has defended his public condemnation of the players, and insists his scathing remarks were commensurate with the nature of Saturday's Ladbrokes Premiership 2-2 draw with Motherwell.

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon faces the media.
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon faces the media.

Lennon was indignant at seeing his side yield a two-goal lead after Louis Moult scored a second-half brace to cancel out an Anthony Stokes double.

As well as questioning his side’s mental toughness, Lennon pointed the finger of blame at goalkeeper Ofir Marciano and branded the concession of the two goals as “pathetic” and “embarrassing”.

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The 46-year-old used the media on several occasions last season to decry unsatisfactory performances, notably after a 1-1 draw at Raith Rovers and in the wake of the 3-2 Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Aberdeen.

The visit of Livingston in tonight’s quarter-final Betfred Cup clash offers the players the chance to make amends and Lennon insists he does not plan to rein in his criticism.

“There’s no point me sugar- coating it in the Press because the Hibs public won’t have it,” said Lennon. “And they know me better than that by now.

“It’s public – it’s already out there. I’m only telling them what I am seeing – individual errors from players.

“It’s basics and I found it unacceptable. The players understand that.

“On Saturday, it was mistake after mistake after mistake. We didn’t manage the game as well as we should have with the quality and experience we have here.

“We dealt with it on Sunday and it’s done now. I was critical of the players because the last half hour was not good enough.

“I don’t know where it comes from. We seem to be going in the right direction and playing well but then – bang – a malaise sets in and we can’t lift ourselves out of it.

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“It’s something we have analysed. I don’t want to see it happen again but, if it does, I want the players to be able to manage it better.

“I didn’t have them in on a day off. Even if we had won 5-0, they would still have been in because we’ve got the game on Tuesday. But it’s important to remember we didn’t lose. We’ve lost only one game this season. But there are things that I am not happy about – and the players know it.”

After assembling a squad full of experience, Saturday’s second-half capitulation took Lennon by shock.

He added: “It surprised me, that’s why I was angry because I didn’t see it coming. I shouldn’t get surprised in football, although I was very annoyed by it.

“Maybe the expectation is high but this is a big club and when you’re at a big club you have to live up to the expectations of the supporters, whether they’re realistic or not.

“If you look at the team on Saturday, you’ve got Anthony Stokes, you’ve got Steven Whittaker, you’ve got Efe Ambrose – who have all won the title three or four times and played in Europe, the Champions League, have actually played in a Uefa Cup final.

“Then I’ve got a goalkeeper who has played at international level. I’ve got players who have won the Scottish Cup.

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“I’ve got experienced players in that team and I want them to them to deal with 15 minutes of pressure from the opposition better than what we did because we made mistake after mistake.”

Forward Martin Boyle, meanwhile, insists emotions were still running high during yesterday’s video-analysis session.

Boyle, pictured, added: “Were voices raised? What do you think! It was a bit fiery at times but it was a conversation we needed to have. At this level, if you make mistakes, you get punished and that’s what happened.

“If the manager is slaughtering us, then we deserve it because we’ve obviously not done well enough.

“The gaffer is a winner, he brings that mentality with him and you have to meet those standards.

“Are we embarrassed being criticised in public? No, definitely not because you can’t be embarrassed.

“We know ourselves being 2-0 up and not winning isn’t good enough at this club.

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“The gaffer said what he said to get a reaction, he’s done it before and it worked.”

Victory over Livingston this evening will see Hibs, who lifted the Scottish Cup last year, return to Hampden for a fifth time in 18 months and Boyle is eyeing another return to Mount Florida.

He added: “If we get back to Hampden then that would be great because you always want to play at your national stadium.

“We have been there a lot 
lately but nobody thinks it’s going to be easy because Livingston are in great form right now.

“They will be a tough task to get past but our aim is to get back to Hampden, it has been enjoyable for us the last few years.

“We have been lucky with cup runs in the last few years, that’s what we have been aiming for because it’s our best chance of winning something.

“We have home advantage in this round so we will hopefully get a big crowd and make the most of it.”