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Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Saturday, 10 April 2010 17:55 UK

Neil Lennon slams the lack of Celtic hunger and desire

Interim Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Lennon believes the Celtic players are simply not good enough

Neil Lennon offered no excuses after Celtic were beaten 2-0 at Hampden by rampant Ross County in the Active Nation Scottish Cup semi-final.

The caretaker Celtic manager said: "We were nowhere near it today.

"There are things you can give players - information, tactics - but there are two things you can't give them - hunger and desire, and we were found wanting.

"County wanted it more. It has been endemic all season. We have gone out of every competition with a whimper."

The shock defeat at Hampden by a team lying fourth in the First Division ended Celtic's hopes of securing some silverware this season.

And it is likely to hamper Lennon's chances of securing the manager's job on a more permanent basis.

"I'm way past angry. I spoke to the players coolly and calmly for 15-20 minutes after the game," Lennon told BBC Scotland.

"I never raised my voice - I did that at half-time and didn't get the response that I wanted.

The players are going to have to take the criticism and so will I

Interim Celtic manager Neil Lennon

"They had one last chance of silverware for the club, the fans, themselves and they couldn't see it through."

Lennon, who replaced Tony Mowbray when he was sacked at the end of March, believes that some of the current squad are not of the standard he expects at Celtic.

Asked if he envisaged a clear-out at the club, he said: "I would imagine so. I would be recommending it to the board.

"This season has been nowhere near good enough. That's why Tony lost his job - the players we thought would be good enough ultimately were not.

"If I'm not here, I'm pretty certain that some of them won't be either.

"We had good chances to win the game. You get what you deserve and we got what we deserved today and that was a 2-0 defeat."

Steven Craig scored a great solo goal for County early in the second half and, as Celtic pushed for an equaliser, Martin Scott prodded the ball home two minutes from time to cement the result.

"We warned the players about complacency," said Lennon.

"I told them semi-finals are really hard games, it's a different environment. They are always tense occasions, but you need to stay in the game.

"Our big players didn't turn up today. If you are not prepared to go in there and get hurt, you are not going to win too many games."

Lennon hinted that Celtic were relying too much on Robbie Keane or Aiden McGeady and said they were left ruing misses by Marc-Antoine Fortune and Georgios Samaras.

"We were living in hope at half-time, that maybe Keane or McGeady would produce a bit of magic and that's not good enough," he said..

"We did have two good chances - Fortune and Samaras, but again that has been symptomatic of their season as well."

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Prior to the cup semi, Lennon had said that defeat would not help his chances of impressing his employers to retain his services in the long term.

"It's not the result or performance that I wanted," he admitted, recalling previous shock results while he was a Celtic player.

"I'll carry on until the end of the season and see what happens.

"I've lost at Inverness and I've lost at Clyde and they are sore. The players are going to have to take the criticism and so will I."

And he added: "I told the players you can't pull the wool over people's eyes. The Celtic fans are very knowledgeable.

"We are asking a lot now for them to stay with us for the rest of the season.

"I can only apologise on behalf of the staff and the players. Whether that is good enough for them, I don't know.

"Next year, I hope we come back better equipped for the challenges ahead."



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see also
Adams praises written-off County
10 Apr 10 |  Ross County
Celtic 0-2 Ross County
10 Apr 10 |  Scottish Cups
Great Scottish Cup moments
10 Apr 10 |  Scottish Cups


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