NEIL LENNON says that the pressure of going for 10-in-a-row has been too much for his players to handle, as he launched a broadside against his underperforming squad after the 2-1 defeat to St Mirren.
The embattled Celtic boss took aim at his flops after yet another catastrophic performance from his team, and said that they had led him to his worst moment as manager of the club.
The defeat leaves the champions 23 points behind Rangers with just two games now in hand, and when asked if his players were letting him down, Lennon replied: “Honestly, at this minute I think yes they are. And they have done for quite a while this season.
“It’s difficult to turn it round. You are looking for motivation, ideas. We have tried different formations, 4-3-3, 3-5-2, 4-diamond-2. So we haven’t changed our philosophy or training programme. I just think the mind-set of some of the players has changed.
“If we play like that we are going to win nothing. If we approach the opposition like that we are going to win nothing.
“If we play with no intensity and no will to win, just fulfilling a fixture we are not going to win anything.
“I would say this is the lowest point of my management here, over the six years I have been manager. It was dreadful. Just not good enough.
“Absolutely baffling first-half performance, short of energy, short of confidence. Short of any sort of quality at all.
“We started the game pretty well but then faded away. Once St Mirren got the goal we looked very ragged for 10-15 minutes.
“We then got back into the game and we shot ourselves in the foot again with an awful goal.
“We were too passive again defensively. In the second half we had all the ball and our final ball or finish was just not of the quality we desired. We deserved what we got.
“It can’t be a lack of confidence. There’s nobody here, there’s no pressure on the players. You’re asking them to go out and follow up on a good performance during the week.
“There has been no consistency at all. We have gone from being a really good team at the beginning of the lockdown, to coming back in and the attitude and intensity and behaviour has all dissipated for whatever reason.
“Individuals; level of performance and levels of fitness. Ultimately, yes, I am responsible for that. So that’s why I have taken heavy criticism this season. But other people should be accountable too.”
Despite this latest setback, Lennon says he hasn’t changed his mind about fighting on as Celtic manager.
“This is a real test of adversity and you have got to show strength,” he said.
“I want to show strength but I need some support and performances from players. Too many of them have been insipid this season to say the least.
“Look, whatever walk of life you are in you need to have a form of professional pride. Especially at a club like this.
“To be fair to the players, over the years they have done. That has been sadly lacking this season. For whatever reason.
“Maybe the pressure of doing the ten has been too much for them. Maybe they have just got tired of winning, tired of playing in Scotland, tired of living in Scotland I don’t know. That’s a question you need to ask them.”
The one bright spot of news from another wretched day for Celtic was Lennon’s optimism that the club can do a deal to bring in Preston North End defender Ben Davies.
“We’d like that to happen but again I can’t say for sure if that’s going to happen or not,” he said.
“We are hoping to get some business done over the next day or two.”