Scottish Daily Mail

Zoom lifts gloom for Len­non

- By JOHN McGARRY Sports · Soccer · Prague · Celtic F.C. · Zoom Video Communications · A.C. Milan · Milan · Lille · Sparti · Celtic Park · Dermot Desmond

NEIL LEN­NON be­lieves he re­tains the un­equiv­o­cal back­ing of the club’s main power bro­kers fol­low­ing an early morn­ing video con­fer­ence call yes­ter­day. A 4-1 de­feat away to Sparta Prague on Thurs­day ended Celtic’s in­ter­est in the Europa League with two games re­main­ing. A mir­ror im­age of the loss to the Czechs at Celtic Park three weeks ago, it ex­tended the club’s dis­mal re­cent run to just two wins in nine matches — and cranked up the heat on Len­non. Al­ready 11 points be­hind Rangers in the ti­tle race, a num­ber of sup­port­ers are de­mand­ing a change in the hot­seat in the hope that it sparks a turn­around in for­tunes. But Len­non, whose side face Ross County in the Bet­fred Cup to­mor­row, is adamant that the key de­ci­sion mak­ers at Park­head still have faith in him to plot a way out of the cur­rent slump. ‘I had a long chat with Peter (Lawwell) and Der­mot

(Des­mond) on a Zoom call and we are to­tally united,’ he said. ‘We are to­tally to­gether and we are de­ter­mined that we will make this into a good season. ‘It was a very pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tion and I have their full sup­port. ‘They have been with me from day one — from the good times to what would be per­ceived to be a bad time. ‘It’s hugely en­cour­ag­ing to get their sup­port but it’s not sur­pris­ing. I have a good re­la­tion­ship with them. ‘They aren’t happy about things, no ques­tion, and they are hon­est, but they be­lieve in me and I be­lieve in them.’ Ac­knowl­edg­ing that the con­ver­sa­tion with his pay­mas­ters was forth­right, Len­non says he is en­tirely com­fort­able with the na­ture of his work­ing re­la­tion­ships. ‘It al­ways is that way with Der­mot. He’s hon­est with me and I am with him. It’s the same with Peter,’ added the North­ern Ir­ish­man. ‘We aren’t smooth­ing over any cracks here. We aren’t say­ing ev­ery­thing is fine, it’s ob­vi­ously not. We are hon­est enough with each other to de­bate that. ‘They are try­ing to help me and I am try­ing to help the play­ers. It wasn’t like a huge ordeal for me.’ Len­non be­lieves the is­sues sur­round­ing his side are pri­mar­ily psy­cho­log­i­cal — with an ex­pert in this field hav­ing re­cently been tasked with work­ing with the play­ers. Cit­ing the neg­a­tive im­pact of the pandemic, the Celtic man­ager also hopes that fur­ther prac­ti­cal steps can be taken to make his play­ers feel more com­fort­able in their work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. ‘We are try­ing to do some re­fit­ting at Len­nox­town to cre­ate a lounge area, if you want to call it that,’ he ex­plained. ‘They could re­lax there af­ter train­ing and we don’t have that amenity at the minute with the way things are with Covid. ‘The dress­ing rooms are split up, as are the eat­ing times, so they don’t see each other un­til they get to the pitch. ‘That is dif­fi­cult, so we are look­ing at dif­fer­ent ways of get­ting them to­gether at a so­cially dis­tanced en­vi­ron­ment. ‘It could help them get to know each other a bit bet­ter. ‘Ev­ery club is in the same boat but maybe it has af­fected some more than oth­ers.’ With the re­main­ing Europa League games against AC Mi­lan and Lille now aca­demic, Len­non hopes to gain some much-needed mo­men­tum from a kinder do­mes­tic sched­ule that sees them play five times at home be­fore the end of the year. ‘We are very strong and durable,’ he con­tin­ued. ‘I be­lieve in the process but the play­ers are strug­gling with some be­lief and con­fi­dence. ‘They played pretty well for large parts of the game in Prague. The score­line flat­tered them. ‘But that’s how it goes for you when you are go­ing through a sticky patch. ‘That’s what it is — this isn’t ter­mi­nal by any means. ‘Europe is over now. We need to look at the do­mes­tic games. ‘The other two Europa League games will maybe give me a chance to freshen things up and get play­ers some games. ‘I had a long chat with the play­ers and what they need now is my sup­port. I will give them en­ergy and plenty of be­lief that they are good play­ers. ‘They have proved that. Class is per­ma­nent and form is tem­po­rary. They will come good sooner rather than later.’

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