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Neil Lennon says Parkhead protests have hurt Celtic


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Celtic boss Neil Lennon says fans protesting outside of their stadium "hurt rather than help" the club.

Supporters gathered at Parkhead on Sunday demanding the County Armagh man be sacked following a poor run of form.

Celtic have won just two of their last ten matches, with their most recent defeat a 2-0 loss to Ross County in the 2nd round of the Scottish League Cup.

Two police officers suffered minor injuries as angry fans attempted to storm Parkhead's main entrance.

The former Northern Ireland international says he would have understood if the protests had have led to his sacking, but is grateful of the club's backing.

Lennon says he was disappointed and hurt by what he saw outside the stadium on Sunday, adding, "I understand the sort of frustrations of the supporters, because ultimately we're not in a great run at the minute.

"But it serves no purpose, particularly for the players.

"I'm old enough and big enough to take criticism, abuse - some of it's justified, some of it's over the top - that's the role of a manager, and that's the responsibility you have to bear.

"We're all in agreement we must do better, and we have to do that with results and performances.

"It only takes a flick of a switch. I think we're lacking a little bit of confidence, a little bit of belief at the minute.

"But it can turn around very quickly, and then it's baby steps after that - build, build, build, build, build.

"So tomorrow we're looking for a performance and a result to start with.

"For twenty years, I've done everything in my power to bring success to the club and the fans. That's not going to change just on the run of a bad month or people being upset about my style of management.

"Because they don't know what it is, they're just sort of voicing their opinions.

"The players are working so hard to turn things around and they're feeling it a little bit, and they need my support as well."

Baby steps

Lennon still has the backing of the Celtic board, despite the club being 11-points behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership title race.

Chief executive Peter Lawwell reacted to Sunday's scenes, saying, "We know that many Celtic supporters share very honest and real concerns and they are being heard by the Club.

"Every decision taken, both on and off the park, is with the Club’s best interests at heart. This is not about any individual, but about Celtic Football Club as a collective."

Celtic are away to AC Milan on Thursday night, and still seeking their first win in Group H of the UEFA Europa League.

And despite the disjointed nature of recent displays, Lennon is certain he still has the backing of his playing squad.

"Why wouldn't I?", he responded to doubts over his standing with the players.

"They're going through a bad spell, and that's what happens in a bad spell - players try too hard sometimes, or players lose a little bit of confidence.

"I didn't think there was a hell of a lot wrong with the [Ross County] performance."

Lennon added, "The body language of the players was good. They're trying to find solutions, as we all are.

"But we have to end this run. We have to get back to being consistent.

"The performances haven't been great all season, to be fair, compared to last season.

"I think not having an atmosphere in the stadium has subconsciously played on them.

"And they're just feeling a little bit... I wouldn't say 'fragile', that's the wrong word, just struggling to find the answers at the minute among themselves.

"It's really hard for them to pin-point what the matter is, and it can only come back with a togetherness.

"I don't see any disjointedness among the group. It's difficult, because they only see each other out on the training grounds because they're in different dressing rooms. And sometimes that can play a little role in it as well.

"But they're definitely determined to turn things around. They're hungry.

"They've felt the wrath - if you want to call it - of the supporters. It surprised some of them, it shook a few of them up.

"But they want to put things right for them, and obviously the club and myself as well."

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AC Milan Celtic Lennon Neil Lennon Peter Lawwell Rangers Scottish Premiership

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