Shane Duffy in possession for Celtic against Aberdeen. PA
Testing times

Celtic boss Neil Lennon blasts the media over 'shocking' abuse of Shane Duffy

The Ireland defender has come in for criticism for his recent performances for the Scottish champions.

NEIL LENNON HAS hit back at “media driven” criticism of Shane Duffy and himself after a turbulent week for Celtic.

The champions lost to Old Firm rivals Rangers and AC Milan before drawing 3-3 with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday which ultimately saw the Hoops – chasing their 10th successive title – drop six points behind their Glasgow rivals at the top of the Premiership, having played a game less.

Republic of Ireland defender Duffy, on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion, was again criticised for his performance against the Dons but the Parkhead boss believes it was over the top, as has been the treatment afforded to him.

Speaking ahead of the Europa League group game against Lille in France on Thursday night, the Northern Irishman believes the majority of Celtic fans are still behind him and that it is the media who are going for him.

He said: “We have lost one game in the league and pundits are talking about me being two games away from the sack. Where that comes from I have no idea.

“I have seen two newspapers run polls on whether I should get sacked or not. I have never seen it before in 20 years I have been here. Who is driving that? It is not the Celtic fans.

“There is a minority of our support who need to calm down, let the players settle. It has been very disruptive the last few weeks but I am not using that as an excuse. In the main I think the majority of the supporters are behind the team and behind the club.

“There is no justification for me to get sacked, none whatsoever. I shouldn’t have to defend my record, it speaks for itself. I don’t feel under any major pressure.

“Am I unhappy with this week’s work? Yes, because we would like to play well and win. But I think we are getting better, stronger and have a lot to look forward to and I think I should be the man in charge of it.

“We go through a little spell and conspiracy theories come out about dressing room break-ups, fall-outs, all that nonsense. It is fake news. I sound like Donald Trump now but it is just all fake news.”

Lennon also claimed the treatment of Duffy had been “hysterical” and “ridiculous”.

The former Celtic captain said: “Players getting singled out and abused, it is absolutely shocking. If that’s the way of the modern world, I am glad I am not a player any more.

“Shane needs to find his feet. He has had a bumpy week – nothing more, nothing less. It happens. I am not happy with the treatment he is getting from certain quarters of the media.

“I think it is hysterical. Comments that he is rank rotten and he is a bombscare. I find that ridiculous. He is a quality player. The personal, banging the drum with certain players is unacceptable.

“He made a mistake, he shouldn’t be hung out to dry for it. He has my full support, he has the team’s full support. I have seen millions of players come in here and take time to find their feet and then go on to have brilliant careers.

“There is a clear lack of respect for the players, management and backroom staff at the minute because of one bad week. I’m telling you it’s media driven. There is a narrative that everybody wants to see a change. That’s fine, that’s the way of the world.”

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