Celtic six points behind Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers after Old Firm defeat and 3-3 draw with Aberdeen; Lennon: "This is being driven by people who are coming up with conspiracy theories... I sound like Donald Trump now but it's all fake news"
Tuesday 27 October 2020 20:19, UK
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has told his critics there is "no justification" for him to be sacked.
Celtic are six points behind leaders Rangers in the Scottish Premiership and looking to end a run of three consecutive games in all competitions without a victory.
However, speaking before Celtic's Europa League match against Lille on Thursday, Lennon said: "This is being driven by people who are coming up with conspiracy theories about my role and what I bring to the club.
"Nobody sees what I do on the training ground, I'm here from 8.30am until six at night.
"When you go through a tough spell, you hear the theories about fallouts on the training ground etc, but it's all fake news.
"I sound like Donald Trump now but it's all fake news. I shouldn't have to defend myself and don't feel under any major pressure.
"Am I unhappy with this week's results, then yeah. We like to play well and win. We have a lot to look forward to and are getting stronger again. And I think I should be the man in charge of it.
"There is no justification for me to be sacked, none whatsoever.
"A minority of our fans need to calm down and let the players settle. Fans might not want to buy into that but if they can't enjoy this season I don't know what they can enjoy.
"Some need to show a bit of patience because it's unbalanced and not helping the players. But in the main, I think the majority of the fans are behind the team."
Lennon also claimed recent criticism of Shane Duffy had been "hysterical" and "ridiculous". The Republic of Ireland defender joined Celtic from Brighton in September on a season-long loan.
"Players getting singled out and abused, it is absolutely shocking," said Lennon.
"If that's the way of the modern world. I am glad I am not a player any more.
"Shane needs to find his feet. He has had a bumpy week, nothing more nothing less. It happens.
"I am not happy with the treatment he is getting from certain quarters of the media.
"I think it is hysterical. He is a quality player. The personal, banging the drum with certain players is unacceptable.
"He made a mistake, he shouldn't be hung out to dry for it. He has my full support, he has the team's full support.
"I have seen millions of players come in here and take time to find their feet and then go on to have brilliant careers.
"There is a clear lack of respect for the players, management and backroom staff at the minute because of one bad week."
Sir Kenny Dalglish has defended Lennon and has urged fans to remember his past and more recent achievements.
Dalglish told Sky Sports: "It is not going too well for them at the moment but I don't think there's any need for anyone to panic.
"He gets the best out of the players and that is all you can ask. It's very easy to judge someone over three games. Judge him over the four years he did before that. Judge him over what he has done since he has come back before you start calling for anyone to be changed.
"He'll be there for a while and rightly so."
Sky Sports' Scottish football expert Andy Walker:
"Lennon simply cannot do any more than win every domestic trophy on offer and as things stand, Celtic are two points worse off than at this stage last season and possibly two games from securing a fourth treble on the trot.
"And yet he's under enormous pressure now that his team are six points adrift of their great rivals in October, having played a game less. Why?
"Undoubtedly, it boils down to the significance of what's on offer this season. Both Celtic and Rangers have secured nine titles in a row before, but neither has managed the 10. It's the Holy Grail."
Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie:
Neil Lennon clearly wanted to get it off his chest - it's been bothering him for days.
The Celtic boss feels there's a media-driven agenda against him and his players, and it was time for him to say his bit.
An angry and frustrated Lennon described some of the things written about him and his team as "poison" and "lacking respect".
He claimed conspiracy theorists who question what he brings to the club are busy at work, and said the criticism of summer signing Shane Duffy has been hysterical.
The Celtic manager's face even appeared to get increasingly red as the press conference wore on.
But what the 49-year-old was keen to do most of all was defend his record and reiterate his belief that he is the right man for the job.
Lennon wasn't asked directly if he is the man to lead Celtic to a potentially historic tenth title in a row, but he wanted to raise it, while coming out fighting. It's the only way he knows.
Lennon feels his record deserves more respect and plenty more time. He can't comprehend national newspapers running a poll on whether he should be sacked after three games without a win - and he has a point.
Yes, it's been a bad week, with home defeats to Rangers and AC Milan followed by a 3-3 draw at Aberdeen, but as Lennon rightly pointed out, Celtic are only two points worse off now than they were at the same point last season - and we all know what went on to happen then.
Perhaps the Celtic boss wanted to put a stop to the criticism now before it started to eat into his team the way it's clearly been eating away at him.