Under-fire Celtic manager finds ally in his former Hibs protege

Hibs defender Ryan Porteous has expressed sympathy for under-the-cosh Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Ryan Porteous was given his Hibs breakthrough by former boss Neil Lennon and he has expressed sympathy for his under-pressure former manager. Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group

The Northern Irishman is under severe pressure following his side’s succession of failures on the pitch and off it.

Sitting 20 points behind league leaders in the Premiership, albeit with two games in hand, the dream of 10-in-a-row is in tatters, while the recent controversial trip to Dubai, the Covid fallout, and the club and managers’ responses have invited criticism from all quarters.

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But, as he prepares for a trip to Hampden, to contest the semi-final of the Betfred Cup – a competition that heaped the pressure on Lennon after his men were ousted by lowly Ross County early in the knockout stages – Porteous has offered his old gaffer his backing.

The 21-year-old centre-back, who made his breakthrough during the Parkhead gaffer’s time at Easter Road, says his former boss was instrumental in those fledgling days of his career development.

“I owe him a lot,” said Porteous. “He showed a lot of faith in me and I thought he was a fantastic manager here, a fantastic coach and a great guy in general. He was brilliant for me. He threw me in early doors when he could have changed formation or played players out of position but he threw me in and had trust in me and I thank him for that. Hopefully he knows that.

“With everything that is going on just now, I do have sympathy for him and the Celtic squad in general but we have got to concentrate on ourselves.”

And he also backed Lennon’s stance on Covid protocols. In an impassioned tirade earlier this week, which has antagonised many of the defending champions’ Premiership peers, Lennon suggested that some clubs had not been strictly adhering to the rules that are in place and Porteous appeared to share Lennon’s belief that no club has been flawless.

“I think it is a tough time just now for everybody. I don't think any team is perfect and if they say they are, they’re lying. But we are trying to do things as best we can here and that’s all we can hope for.

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