Lennon enjoying 'fantastic' season

  • Last Updated: February 22 2013, 23:53 GMT

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is determined not to be affected by what he claims is the "overwhelming negativity" of Scottish football.

Neil Lennon: Not affected by negativity
Neil Lennon: Not affected by negativity

The Hoops are 19 points clear of Motherwell at the top of the SPL standings and on course to clinch the championship next month.

However, aside from European nights during their exciting journey to the last-16 of the Champions League, in which they play Juventus in Turin next month trying to recover a 3-0 first-leg defeat, Celtic Park has rarely been full this season.

The absence of a league challenge from traditional rivals Rangers, now playing in the Third Division, has had an effect on attendances and ahead of the visit of bottom side Dundee on Sunday, Lennon was asked about the prospect of crowds dwindling further as the Hoops disappear over the SPL horizon.

The Celtic boss, who reiterated that the first-half performance in the 1-1 draw against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Tuesday night was the best in all his time as manager, said: "Everyone was doom and gloom at the start of the season but it has been a fantastic season for us.

"We have proved all the doom-mongers wrong and there is a lot of negativity in this country, a lot of it, it is overwhelming sometimes.

"Even when you are doing well....you are so far ahead and it is a one-horse race.

"I can't do anything about it. The reality of my job is to win, develop the players, develop the team and keep it progressing.

"Why would it be a worry for me when we are 19 points clear?

"There is nothing I can do about that (fans stopping coming), do you want me to stop winning and let the gap close a little bit and make it more exciting?

"Bayern Munich are 15 points clear in their league, Man United are 12 points clear in their league so why is it just exclusive to us?

"Gates are down all over Europe, there is a recession on and a lot of people are feeling the pinch," added Lennon, who is grateful for the backing his side have received from their fans.

"We have a great support and we have had since my time here and before that," he said.

"We had a great support in Perth the other night and they sang the whole way through the game and the home games this season, particularly since the turn of the year, have been excellent.

"I thought the fans against Dundee United last week were superb, they stayed with the team the whole way through and I expect it to be no different on Sunday.

"I don't have a crystal ball and I don't know what next season is going to bring so if crowds are down then we will do our best to bring them back.

"My motivation is to keep winning, keep improving the players and making the club better on and off the field.

"Although I don't really have a lot to do with what goes on off the field, I can affect the squad, results, recruitment, development of players and that in itself is a huge challenge.

"I think we have come a long way since 2010 and I think that gets overlooked sometimes.

"We have huge assets at the club which we never had before, we are still in the last-16 of the Champions League and well clear in the league. so what more can we do?"

The former Celtic skipper admitted sympathy for former Dundee manager Barry Smith who departed the Dens Park club on Wednesday.

He said: "He had a monster task on his hands because he was really recruiting for Division One and then he had to prepare for the SPL.

"So it is has been a difficult ride for him. I was surprised that they sacked him but again, that is Dundee's business.

"I don't know what goes on behind the scenes there but from the outside it looks harsh."


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