McInnes sup­ports Len­non

Dons boss praises Hibs coun­ter­part and says he brings out best in peo­ple

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - SPORT - BY JAMIE DURENT

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes rates his Hibs coun­ter­part Neil Len­non as a valu­able part of Scot­tish foot­ball.

Len­non was in the head­lines last week af­ter he was hit by a coin dur­ing the Ed­in­burgh derby at Tynecas­tle, be­fore stat­ing he was the tar­get of abuse be­cause he is an Ir­ish Catholic.

McInnes has en­joyed sev­eral bat­tles with Len­non over the years, dur­ing his pe­riod as Celtic and Hiber­nian man­ager, and rates him as some­one who al­ways gets the best out of his play­ers.

He said: “I re­ally like Neil as a guy and I think he’s com­pet­i­tive, wears his heart on his sleeve just like the way he played the game. He gives his clubs every­thing as he’s pas­sion­ate, he speaks well and he’s a very good man­ager who brings the best out of peo­ple.

“For me he rightly gets a lot of credit for his team and the way they play the game. You al­ways ex­pect a tough game against Neil’s Frus­trated Hiber­nian boss Neil Len­non has crit­i­cised what he calls dou­ble stan­dards and hypocrisy af­ter point­ing out the dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions to his and Jose Mour­inho’s touch­line taunts.

The Easter Road man­ager was fu­ri­ous when he was ac­cused of goad­ing a Hearts sup­porter into throw­ing a coin at last week’s team whether that’s when I went up against him when he was the Celtic man­ager or now he’s in charge at Hibs.

“We’ve had two hard games against Hibs al­ready this sea­son that ended draws af­ter 90 min­utes down at Easter Road but we man­aged to win the cup tie on penal­ties.

“Tac­tics can some­times be over­played as it’s mostly about get­ting per­for­mances from your play­ers to de­liver the big re­sults and Neil is good at that. Most peo­ple in foot­ball have some idea of the game but man­ag­ing Ed­in­burgh derby. His for­mer Celtic team-mate Gary Cald­well claimed Len­non “brings a lot of it on him­self ” af­ter he was felled by a mis­sile hurled from the Tynecas­tle sup­port when he cheered a dis­al­lowed Jam­bos goal.

Len­non re­jected the sug­ges­tion as he in­sisted he was tar­geted be­cause he was a North­ern Ir­ish catholic who had played for Celtic. And he raised the is­sue again at play­ers right and get­ting them to re­spond pos­i­tively to you is the big­gest part and he does that.”

Hiber­nian come to the Gran­ite City tonight and have yet to beat the Dons this sea­son, draw­ing 1-1 in a league game at Easter Road and go­ing out of the Bet­fred Cup on a penalty shoot-out.

The Dons fol­lowed that spot-kick tri­umph with vic­tory over Rangers to earn a place in the fi­nal and the club stated yesterday they have sold out 18,000 tick­ets for the show­piece game against Celtic on De­cem­ber 2. his pre-match press con­fer­ence ahead of Satur­day’s clash with Aberdeen af­ter watch­ing how Mour­inho’s ear-cup­ping ges­ture fol­low­ing Manch­ester United’s win over Ju­ven­tus had failed to spark a sim­i­lar kind of out­cry.

He said: “I en­joyed Mour­inho af­ter the game yesterday, I knew ex­actly how he was feel­ing.

“But the re­ac­tion smacks of dou­ble stan­dards and hypocrisy. That’s where we are with the McInnes added: “We’re de­lighted with that but the re­sponse is as we ex­pected as fi­nals are viewed to­tally dif­fer­ently and they are there to be cher­ished.

“Hope­fully we get as many of our sup­port­ers in as pos­si­ble as the semi­fi­nal re­sponse was deemed dis­ap­point­ing by some. Not by me but it’s en­cour­ag­ing re­gards the fi­nal and it gives us a lot of be­lief and con­fi­dence that so many want to be at Ham­p­den next month.”

He is con­fi­dent of be­ing able to ex­tend the loan of full-back Max Lowe, whose game up here some­times. The re­ac­tion to Jose was, ‘it’s ban­ter, it’s fun, love it’.

“That’s the main­stream down there, up here it’s goad­ing, in­cit­ing vi­o­lence, in­cit­ing a riot.”

There was mis­sile con­tro­versy on Satur­day when Rangers striker Al­fredo More­los was hit with a coin whilst cel­e­brat­ing his goal against St Mir­ren.

Len­non says it is now time to crack down hard on the cul­prits deal from Derby ex­pires in Jan­uary. McInnes is in reg­u­lar con­tact with Rams boss Frank Lam­pard and his as­sis­tant Jody Morris, who worked with him at St John­stone, with re­gards to Lowe’s progress.

The club are also con­fi­dent of work­ing out a deal to keep Andy Con­si­dine. The longserv­ing de­fender is one of five play­ers whose con­tracts ex­pire next sum­mer.

McInnes said: “Andy is some­one I trust to­tally. If he wants to sign and be here longer then we would gladly have him.” but in­sists it would be wrong to bring in strict li­a­bil­ity mea­sures that would see clubs pun­ished on be­half of trouble-mak­ing fans.

“It’s down to the in­di­vid­u­als,” he stressed. “You’d think af­ter what hap­pened on Wed­nes­day night that would be the end of it.

“Then you see what hap­pens to Al­fredo when he’s just cel­e­brat­ing a goal. Hope­fully they get them and they are pun­ished se­verely.

“It has to be a de­ter­rent.” Joe Lewis does not care if Aberdeen’s foot­ball is not al­ways pretty, so long as they are pick­ing up wins.

The Dons have ap­peared more de­fen­sive in some games but goal­keeper Lewis stresses this is not down to an edict from the coach­ing staff, rather a de­sire to stay in games as long as pos­si­ble.

Goal-laden games are Lewis’s idea of a per­sonal hell and Aberdeen have done a good job of avoid­ing that of late, keep­ing four clean sheets in their past eight games.

Lewis said: “You’ve got to stay in games, you’re not al­ways go­ing to be dom­i­nat­ing games.

“You want to, you’d like to, and that’s what we’re striv­ing to do and work­ing hard to im­prove on. But you’re not al­ways go­ing to be able to do that and when you’re not dom­i­nat­ing games or teams are hav­ing pos­ses­sion, you need to be solid, or­gan­ised and dif­fi­cult to break down. That’s what we’ve been.

“Last week, we had three wins and I had very few saves to make in the three games. I can think of two saves I had to make. That’s good play from our team.

“That gives the team ev­ery chance of win­ning games and you can build on that. The last thing you want to be do­ing is scor­ing three or four goals and not win­ning games, draw­ing 3-3 or los­ing 3-2.

“From a de­fen­sive point of view that would be my idea of hell. I’ve played in teams like that and it’s not great for a goal­keeper to be in­volved in. At the mo­ment, be­ing in a team that is hard to beat and or­gan­ised is en­joy­able. It might not be pretty to watch but that’s the side of games I en­joy.

“We are striv­ing to im­prove. We had a great week of re­sults but we know there’s a lot more to come from our­selves.”

RE­SPECT: Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes, left, reck­ons Hiber­nian man­ager Neil Len­non is a valu­able part of the Scot­tish game and de­serves to be treated bet­ter

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