Lennon needs to spend if Celtic are to make progress in Europe, says Lisbon Lion Auld

 

Celtic manager Neil Lennon needs to recruit someone in his own image for next season's assault on Europe, according to the Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld.

Lennon won his first Scottish Premier League title as a manager at the weekend with a 6-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and then targeted next season's Champions League group stages.

However, Celtic won only one of their eight Europa League games this season and Auld, who was in the Hoops team which won the 1967 European Cup, believes an experienced holding midfielder is what is now required. "I think Celtic will need to bring a couple of players in to school or coach the younger players there," said Auld. "I know Neil said it is one of the younger Celtic teams but as soon as you pull that jersey on and walk down the tunnel, you are judged as a Celtic player.

"Experienced players give you that guidance which we don't have. We need someone with an old head who is going to hold the reins. A sort of Neil Lennon, who is prepared to sit in and encourage and pick up the ball.

"Neil must have been very disappointed and dejected about some of the games we played [in Europe]. You can't go out and throw caution to the wind and attack everyone.

"At that level you have to have a plan B, even the great clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, if they can't attack away from home, they need to have another system and Neil will have learned that."

After the post-match celebrations in Ayrshire, Lennon claimed the title win meant he could now walk alongside former Celtic managers like Stein, Billy McNeill, Davie Hay and Martin O'Neill.

However Auld, a disciple of legendary boss Stein, added: "I think that was tongue in cheek. Neil knows the big man [Stein] was number one.

"But the big thing is, Neil is just a young manager, he has won the Scottish Cup, he has won the championship and he is in the semis of the Scottish Cup, although I think it will be a hard tie because Hearts will be up for it.

"But he went out to win the league championship and did it."

Auld called on Lennon's backroom staff to step in to help with some of the problems the Parkhead boss still appears to have with officials in Scotland.

Lennon will come up in front of the Scottish Football Association's Judicial Panel on Thursday week.

He was written to by compliance officer Vincent Lunny demanding an explanation for his comments about referee Willie Collum following the League Cup final defeat by Kilmarnock at Hampden on March 18.

Lennon described Collum's decision to deny Celtic a last-gasp penalty as "criminal" while claiming the official cost his side the chance of a cup treble. The former Celtic captain was then sent off by referee Calum Murray at the interval in the 3-2 SPL defeat by Rangers at Ibrox.

Lunny then wrote to Lennon again, asking for an explanation about comments about referees ahead of the visit of St Johnstone, but that case will be heard at a later date.

"I think they [the backroom staff] need to take their turn," Auld said.

"Alan Thompson and big [Johan] Mjallby, they will need to pull his shoulder and say, 'Here, listen, it's my turn, let me get in' and then do that."

Meanwhile, there was some good news on the injury front ahead of the trip to Hampden on Sunday.

Captain Scott Brown will be available after coming off against Kilmarnock with a slight knock. Defender Thomas Rogne (knock) and striker Mo Bangura (knee) have both returned to training while winger Paddy McCourt (back) will return this Friday.

Midfielder Beram Kayal (ankle) will also resume full training on Monday. Winger James Forrest is making slow progress on a bruised calf, while defender Daniel Majstorovic has returned to Sweden for a break from rehab as he continues his recovery following knee surgery.

Under-19 midfielder Paul George, who suffered a double leg break, has been released from hospital, though he faces six to eight months out.

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