Lennon: Social media ‘makes life difficult’ for players

The Celtic manager was speaking at the launch of a fundraising football match in partnership with rugby legend Doddie Weir.

Neil Lennon reckons “bonkers” social media has made playing and managing even more pressurised.

The Celtic manager was speaking at the launch of a fundraising football match in partnership with Doddie Weir which will be played at Celtic Park in aid of research aimed at tackling Motor Neurone Disease.

The rugby legend’s My Name’5 Doddie Foundation have teamed up with the Celtic FC Foundation for the match, which will take place on Friday May 8.

The Lions’ Roar match at Celtic Park will feature players from the worlds of football, rugby and entertainment, with the net proceeds going towards research into the disease and providing care to sufferers.

Lennon, who has been at Celtic Park for the bulk of this century over three different spells, was used to being the centre of media attention as player and captain, even before first taking over as manager in 2010.

And the 48-year-old, who has clinched all three trophies since rejoining the club just over a year ago, is now on course to continue their domestic domination this season with the Hoops still on track for a quadruple treble and their ninth league title in a row.

They sit 12 points clear in the Premiership with a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden to look forward to.

But that has not made him immune from criticism after two sloppy late goals sent Celtic out of the Europa League against FC Copenhagen last week.

And he now admits that the demands at Celtic and Rangers are relentless.

He said: “It’s always the case, it’s never been any different,” he said. “I have been here 20 years in Scotland and it’s never changed.

“In fact, if anything it’s getting more and more pressurised with the way the media is and social media and analysis. Sometimes it’s unrealistic and sometimes the expectations are unrealistic as well.

“It’s not just in Glasgow, it’s worldwide. People can get very, very personal. They have avenues to get personal with players, managers or whatever through social media. I think that’s a very difficult thing for the modern-day player to have to put up with.

“It’s bonkers. It’s not real. I am so glad I am not on it. I used to be on it years ago but it took up too much of my time.”

Speaking of the charity match 49-year-old Weir, said: “There has been an argument already over what team John Collins will play for.

“We are very excited about the association with Celtic, ironically the club legend Jimmy Johnstone passed away from 14 or 15 years ago and very little has been done since. That’s how static the progress is for the treatment of MND.

“The one available drug came out thirty years ago and there has been nothing new since.

“So I am delighted we can have this association with Celtic to hopefully bring much needed awareness and raise much needed funds to try and find a cure.

“We are very excited about the game.”

MND sufferer Weir has helped raise more than £5m through his foundation while Celtic’s involvement is partially in tribute to the man voted their greatest ever player, Jimmy Johnstone, who died from the disease in 2006.

Agnes Johnstone, the Lisbon Lion’s widow, said: “Our family is so honoured that Jimmy’s legacy and memory is now being used in such a positive way to help others.

“Like Doddie, Jimmy faced a huge fight against MND and he tackled his challenge with real courage and determination.

“We would like to thank Celtic and Doddie for all their great work in supporting the fight against MND.

“Doddie is a true inspiration to us all and our family are watching with genuine admiration.

“We hope as many people as possible support Doddie and Celtic through this great event, so that so many other deserving people can benefit.”

Lennon, whose team made it 34 consecutive cup wins in domestic football with victory over St Johnstone on Sunday, said: “We were really disappointed on Thursday night but we put in a really strong performance on Sunday and I think that shows the quality that the team has.

“We are all bitterly disappointed to be out of Europe, we wanted to make inroads after a great group stage, and we just let ourselves down in a couple of moments.

“But over the course of the season the players have been unbelievable. There is no way I would sit there and criticise any individual or the team as a whole because they have been absolutely brilliant and it’s totally unnecessary.”

Celtic can take another step towards a ninth consecutive title on Wednesday when they travel to Livingston, the venue of their only domestic defeat on the road all season, but have a fitness doubt in defence.

Lennon said: “We are waiting on Kris Ajer to see how he is, he had a bit of a sore thigh.”

Meanwhile, the Celtic manager was coy over reports that they are keen to get Odsonne Edouard to sign a new contract.

When asked if he could say anything on French media reports, Lennon said: “I can’t. I’d love to but that’s from the French side of things and nothing from this side of the water.”

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