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