Neil Lennon confident Rangers loss won't affect his Celtic future

Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, said that he is aiming to knock the reigning champions “off their perch”.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

CELTIC INTERIM MANAGER Neil Lennon said he thought it unlikely the club’s hierarchy would be swayed into rejecting his bid to take on the job full-time by Sunday’s 2-0 loss away to Rangers.

Defeat in the final Old Firm derby of the season came a week after former Celtic midfielder Lennon, in his second spell in charge, had guided the Hoops to their eighth successive Scottish Premiership title.

Lennon, previously in charge of Hibernian and only back at Parkhead after Brendan Rodgers’ surprise mid-season move to Leicester, will lead Celtic to a triple treble if they beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden on 25 May.

Rangers went ahead as early as Sunday’s second minute at Ibrox to the delight of the home crowd through captain James Tavernier before Scott Arfield made it 2-0 midway through the second half.

Asked if Celtic’s lacklustre display at the home of their arch Glasgow rivals would affect his chances of taking over on a full-time basis, Lennon replied: “I’ve no idea, I wouldn’t have thought so.

We have come through a lot of big games recently, meaningful games. I’m not saying this isn’t meaningful, but quarter-finals, semi-finals, league games.”

Meanwhile, the Northern Irishman gave a withering assessment of Celtic’s performance at Ibrox.

“Poor, very poor,” he said. “Lacked energy and desire. And lacked quality.

“I had to tell the players, whether I’m here or not next year, that performance is just not good enough for a derby.”

Rangers’ victory meant both sides had won two derbies each this season and gave their fans hope of being able to mount a sustained challenge to Celtic’s dominance in the new campaign.

“We should take a lot of belief and confidence from this performance and this result,” said Rangers manager Steven Gerrard.

“If you analyse the four derby games I think we’ve been more than a match. That hasn’t been the area where we have fallen short.”

Gerrard added: “We have drawn too many games elsewhere. There has been one or two disappointing defeats within that as well.

It is a huge challenge here. Just because we have won today and performed very well it doesn’t make it any easier next season.

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“Celtic aren’t going to go away, they’re going to improve. There’s still a target for us, which is to try and knock them off their perch.”

© – AFP 2019

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