Posts Tagged ‘ Neil Lennon ’

Hibs Suffer Narrow Defeat To Champions Celtic

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A brave performance by Hibs was not enough to secure a share of the points against champions Celtic at Parkhead today.

Manager Terry Butcher made two changes to the side from last weekend’s home draw against Partick Thistle with Michael Nelson returning from injury and Scott Robertson resuming his place in the middle of the park following suspension. Continue reading

Neil Lennon Describes Hibs’ Tactics As ‘Shocking’


An angry Neil Lennon criticised the Hibs’ players and match officials after watching his team come from behind to grab a share of the points thanks to a late equaliser from substitute James Forrest at Easter Road yesterday.

After the game Lennon said: “It was shocking – absolutely shocking. Reckless. I’m all for competitive football, no one more than myself, but seriously, they were borderline tackles. I didn’t really say to Pat but I made my feelings pretty clear to the fourth official. I don’t think it was any player target in particular, it was across the board. Without singling players out, the tackle by (Rowan) Vine on (Darnell) Fisher was rugby-esque. We’ve got a big Champions League game and I’m not asking any favours, I don’t mind teams being competitive, and the physicality of the game was good but I felt it was over the top. My opinion may be different from Pat’s, he’ll say he sent his team out to get in our faces and I don’t mind that at all, but the ref should take more of a grip on it sometimes.” Continue reading

Hibs 1-1 Celtic: Brave performance by Fenlon’s men


Hibs had to settle for a share of the points after champions Celtic came from behind to grab a late equaliser in a 100mph encounter at Easter Road today.

Pat Fenlon made two changes to the side that beat Partick Thistle a fortnight ago with Abdellah Zoubir and Owain Tudur Jones starting in place of Tom Taiwo and James Collins – who dropped to the bench. Continue reading

Irish Tangerine Contingent Dream Of Title Tilt But At What Cost?

Nestled on the banks of the River Tay lies one of football’s finest institutions, something of a sleeping giant of the modern game and a club that is best placed to challenge the established order this season.

With the all too documented demise of Rangers, it would appear that the Scottish Premier League is Celtic’s to lose after their fierce rivals where banished to the graveyard of Scottish football. Few, if any, have speculated about who is best placed to challenge the Hoops and that is very disrespectful to the likes of Motherwell, Hearts and Dundee United.

It is the latter which would seem best placed to challenge Celtic.

After a decade of relative unease around Tannadice the fortunes of this famous club began to change. The year was 2006 and the Arabs opted to appoint 14 year Hearts veteran Craig Levein as their new manager. It was an opportunity that seemed viable to both sides, the club required stability while Levein was an upcoming manager who wanted to make the next step up after a brief period at Raith Rovers.

Levein began restructuring the club, overhauling its youth system and bringing a new generation of young talent into the first team. The club comfortably avoided relegation in Levein’s first season in charge, and then managed two successive fifth place finishes, the first time they had managed successive top-half finishes since the days of the legendary Jim McLean. By late 2009 the club were in second place in the table, and looking to have an outside chance of mounting a title challenge.

Levein’s achievements had not gone unnoticed however, and in November 2009 he accepted the job of the Scotland national team manager. The club searched high and low in their attempts to sound out who was the best candidate to replace Levein. After a lengthy search it became apparent that his successor was right before them. After a successful spell as caretaker manager Peter Houston, Levein’s assistant was given the job on a full time basis. The shift from Levein to Houston was smooth and culminated in a third place SPL finish and a Scottish Cup victory, the second in the club’s history.

After two successive fourth place finishes, Dundee United look set to challenge Celtic to the title, having been able to keep their side relatively intact despite the current doom and gloom surrounding Scottish football. The foundations of this Tangerine side is based around a mixture of talent, a blend of youth and experience, which includes no fewer than six Irish stars.

Scottish football has become synonymous with an influx of Irish stars in recent years and one only has to look to Tannadice, where a club originally formed as Dundee Hibernian, boast some of the finest Irish talent on offer. The free scoring club captain Jon Daly, the ever consistent Sean Dillon and the combative Willo Flood make up the established Irish guard at the club. In recent times they have been joined by Irish under 21 star Gavin Gunning, Sligo Rovers midfielder Richie Ryan and young gun Paddy Barrett.

At the time of writing it is a matter of hours since Dundee United opened the new season with a three nil rout of Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian. Ironically the Arabs had tried in vein to lure Fenlon from Bohemians after the departure of Levein. The Tangerines raced out of the blocks on their return to SPL action and their entire Irish contingent featured with the exception of Barrett, who has yet to make his first team bow despite making the bench last year.

While it is wrong for one to judge a team by its first look, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the chemistry within this Dundee United side provides a severe threat, one which Neil Lennon should heed. The very future of Scottish football can benefit from the success of this United side with names like Johnny Russell and Gary Mackay Steven bound for international recognition in the near future. Houston’s side possess a solid threat to Celtic yet their title tilt may struggle should they qualify for the Europa League, something they are reasonably well placed for.

The Tangerines seemed set to record a 2-1 home win in their first leg encounter with Dynamo Moscow only for Alexander Kokorin to snatch a draw with a last minute strike. The tie is well poised although the Russians will fancy themselves given their away goals. But perhaps Dundee United would benefit from bowing out of Europe. Financially it could be crippling, given the lack of finance in the Scottish game at present. However in the long run a lack of European exertion may well be the very thing Peter Houston requires to turn his side into serious title challengers.

No Scottish club has been oblivious to the financial plight that has struck the game in the light of the punishment handed down to Rangers. Every club is desperately clutching at whatever finance is available and the windfall arising from European qualification is something few if any can afford to miss out on.  But should Dundee United and their Irish contingent bow out of Europe they may well find their league fortunes reach unparalleled heights. This exciting and free flowing side are a team on the up and one well worth watching. There is a very fine line between success and failure and Peter Heuston has the makings of a man who can bring back the glory days of the McLean era.

Scottish Cup Final is all Edinburgh affair

There will be an all Edinburgh Scottish Cup Final this year after Hearts beat Celtic with a hotly disputed last minute Craig Beattie penalty. Celtic boss  Neil Lennon was furious at the decision and confronted the referee Euan Norris on the pitch after the final whistle. He is likely to be in trouble with the SFA after tweeting “Referee told players he thought Wanyama handled…feel so sorry for players and fans. I think it’s personal myself,” and also re-tweeting a comment from a supporter which suggested that Celtic should “pack our bags and get out of this league that is run by crooked £SFA officials”.

The final will be played on Saturday May 19 with a traditional 3pm kick off, and Hearts will go into the game as firm favourites having not lost to their city rivals for over three years.

Both sets of supporters now face a scramble for tickets. In 2006, the clubs met at the semi-final stage and the Hibs board badly misjudged the allocation process, allowing season ticket holders only one ticket each which prevented friends and families sitting together and resulted in several thousand left unsold. Supporters are anxiously waiting to hear how the tickets will be distributed this time, and calls are already taking place to host the game at Murrayfield which holds 67,000 rather than Hampden Park which can only accommodate 50,000.

The SFA however are unlikely to allow their showpiece fixture to take place at the home of rugby, and both clubs should receive just over 20,000 tickets for the game, with the remainder going to corporate hospitality.

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has dismissed the Murrayfield notion however and said: “Hampden is the home of Scottish football and that is the right place for the game.

“It’s a fantastic occasion to look forward to. It’ll be a great occasion for everyone, the city and both clubs.

“There is going to be so much hype around this game and it is important we concentrate on our job in the SPL.

“But, yes, an Edinburgh Cup Final is going to capture everyone’s imagination. We are talking about two big clubs and we’ve heard enough about Hibs’ recent history in the Scottish Cup, so it’ll be some occasion for us.

“The Hibs fans would take the prospect of beating anyone in a Final. But to have it against Hearts, it’d make it more special.”

“If Celtic won, we’d have been in Europe and that would have been great. On the other hand, we wanted the occasion of playing Hearts. So we still have the chance to get into Europe under our own steam.”

Saturday’s victory over Aberdeen has justified the Proclaimers’ decision to turn down lucrative concerts in America on cup final weekend, and the die-hard fans will be hoping to see the supporters sing their anthem ‘Sunshine on Leith’ as the team finally parade the cup for the first time in 110 years.

As Fenlon plays up the occasion, Hearts boss Paulo Sergio is determined to do the opposite. The Portuguese boss said:  “For me to play Hibs in the final will just be the same as playing any other team.

“It’s just another game against an opponent who we respect and, when the time comes, we will be ready for it. Celtic were the favourites today but in a final between Hearts and Hibs I don’t think there will be a favourite.

“But until then, everybody at Hearts have to keep their feet on the ground because we have important things to do just now. Our next target is to make sure we finish in fifth position in the league so we have important games to play before the final comes.

“Around me the players have to be focused on the next game. If I feel that they are not focused then they are not going to play and maybe they will lose their place in the team for the final. My players know the way I am and the way I want to work. They are used to that.

“They have every right to celebrate tonight but tomorrow we start thinking about the next game against Rangers. I will celebrate too but in the same way as I always do. I will go out, have a good dinner, drink a glass of wine and then go home.

“I’m not too emotional. I’m very happy of course, it’s contagious. I’m very happy and proud of the players because it’s a great moment for us. We didn’t beat a poor team; we beat Celtic, the champions of Scotland, who have a great squad, a great technical staff and a great manager, so we should be proud of that”.

First Minister Alex Salmond who supports the Gorgie men offered his congratulations to both teams and said: “Congratulations to Hearts and Hibs on their Scottish Cup semi-final victories over this weekend. We now have the exciting prospect of an all-Edinburgh cup final – the first since 1896, and I look forward to it.

“Despite some of the stories that have hit the headlines off the pitch, this has actually turned into a very exciting season on the pitch. Celtic were the outstanding team in the SPL and the deserved champions, Kilmarnock won the Communities League Cup, Ross County have won promotion to the SPL, and we now have an all-Edinburgh cup final to look forward to.

“In addition, although it’s early days, we have seen a significant improvement in fan behaviour. All in all a much better prospect for Scottish football.”

The only previous Scottish Cup Final between the city rivals was played at Logie Green in 1896, where Hearts lifted the trophy after a 3-1 victory.

Turbulent Period Ends In Victory for Fenlon’s Hibs

AS HIBS LINED UP to face Celtic in the SPL on Sunday, they sat joint on points at the foot of the table with Dunfermline, with the Edinburgh side ahead only on goal difference. Three games – and sixteen goals – later, and Hibernian have a three-point gap above the relegation spot with a game in hand. The calm waters of Leith’s harbour give lie to the tumultuous fortunes of its football team. This comes as no surprise to the time-weathered followers of Hibernian, though for Pat Fenlon the experience may well be one that requires adjustment.

SPL-leaders Celtic visited Easter Road on Sunday 19th February. Neil Lennon’s side were in emphatic form, currently enjoying a record-breaking winning streak in the Scottish top flight, and their visit to the capital city continued in a similar vein. Fenlon’s side suffered a 5-0 defeat in a flat performance which, despite Celtic’s current form, served as an alarming wake up call to everyone involved with Hibernian who now teetered on the brink of the relegation zone.

A mid-week trip to Motherwell offered Hibs the chance of a respite from the hangover induced by Sunday’s heavy defeat. Motherwell, emboldened by the recent 10 point sanction place upon Rangers as they entered into administration, could begin to look above and beyond their 3rd place standing. Their recent form would suggest that they would be favourites ahead of Hibs, though most observers whom are familiar with the SPL will recognise this fixture as an entirely unpredictable affair, in no small part due to a 6-6 scoreline here in 2010.

Wednesday’s game was equally as compelling. Hibernian, bolstered by a sizable travelling support, took the game to the hosts early on. The visitors looked confident and dangerous in attack. Yet a return to some all-too familiar failings for Pat Fenlon’s team allowed ‘Well back into the game. It was a hard-fought encounter in which Hibs’ prowess going forward and in the middle of the park was undone by repeated defensive mistakes – including the gifting of two penalties by young Irishman Matt Doherty. The game finished 4-3. The enthrallment of the neutral offered scant consolation for Fenlon and his players.

To end the week, Hibernian travelled to Kilmarnock, eager to dispel the disappointment of the previous two matches. Fenlon had made a couple of key changes to the side that lost at Motherwell, replacing Matt Doherty with Pa Kujabi in defence and Irish forward Roy O’Donovan taking the place of Garry O’Connor. It was an astute reshuffle which appeared to banish the woes of the week that had passed. Central to Hibernian’s performance on Saturday was the return from injury of Tom Soares, on loan from Stoke City. Two goals from Soares and a fine 25 yard strike from O’Donovan saw Hibernian record a crucial 3-1 victory over Kenny Shiels’ Kilmarnock side.

The sense of relief around the Easter Road club was palpable as Fenlon recorded his second league win with the club, though the Hibs boss urged caution. “It’s one win, nothing else. If we can get on a little bit of a roll, that will help us”, Fenlon told the BBC. “It’s a massive game at home to St Mirren next week. It’s important that we stay focused.”

There is breathing space now between the bottom two clubs in Scottish Premier League. Fenlon’s plea for focus will need to be heeded if Hibs are to part from their capricious habits.

Ex Celtic Star Labels Hearts “Animals”

A former Celtic star who remains a fierce rival and hate icon among Hearts fans has hit
back in the wake of the sickening attack on Hoops manager Neil Lennon at

Lennon, who has had to deal with numerous threats to his life throughout a turbulent
career, including the recent finding of bombs addressed to him in the mail, was
attacked after a pitch invader entered the field following Celtic’s second goal
in a 3-0 win.

Hibernian forward Derek Riordan, tweeted “animals springs to mind”, shortly after the attack took place on his former Celtic team mate. The forward, who plays for Hearts fierce city rivals, spent two years in Glasgow in 2006 prior to returning to Easter Road.

Riordan`s hatred for Hearts runs deep, after numerous incidents, most notably when a fan
tried to attack him at Tynecastle two years ago. Riordan had scored a 79th
minute penalty that would win the Edinburgh derby for his side, when a fan
invaded the pitch and attempted to punch him.

The Scottish striker has also been embroiled in controversy. During his time in
Glasgow, he was pictured drunk at a club function singing songs about Czech
Republic star Rudi Skacel, a fan favourite amongst Hearts fans.

Williams On Trial At Celtic

Sporting Fingal star Shaun Williams is currently on trial with Scottish giants Celtic, as he seeks to sort out his future.

 The 24 year old had widely impressed scouts from the Glasgow club during the 2010 Airtricity League season and manager Neil Lennon was keen to invite the versatile midfielder over. The Celtic manager is currently running the rule over Williams at Lennoxtown, ahead of the Hoops weekend clash with Hibernian.

 Williams, has also had interest from England, with Coventry City and Crystal Palace both keeping tabs on the 2010 PFAI young player of the year. Shamrock Rovers have also been keeping an eye on his availability. He was due to fly out to Norway with the rest of the PFAI squad this week but the offer of earning a contract with his boyhood club was too good to refuse.

 Should the Portmarnock native earn a deal with the SPL side he will join former League of Ireland stars Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn at Parkhead. McCourt made the move to Parkhead in 2008 from Derry City while fellow Northern Ireland international McGinn followed suit a year later.