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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

26 October 2019

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13/08/2019 - 22:13 GMT

Playing Callum McGregor At Left-back Not The Problem – Neil Lennon After Celtic Exit

 




Celtic manager Neil Lennon has bemoaned his side's defending against Cluj at Celtic Park after a 4-3 home defeat against the Romanian side meant a 5-4 aggregate loss and elimination from the Champions League at the third qualifying round, and has defended playing Callum McGregor at left-back. 


The Bhoys fell behind in the match going 1-0 down in the 27th minute, but turned things around through James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard, to lead by the hour mark.


 



They conceded again though and even though they did pull ahead through Ryan Christie one more time, it was not enough as two further goals from Cluj, the latest deep into injury time, settled the result in the Romanians' favour.

Lennon was quick to make no bones about the fact his side defended poorly and believes they only have themselves to blame.

 


"If you don’t do the basics defensively well enough then at this level you get punished", Lennon said on BBC Radio Scotland.


 


"We’ve let it go. We’ve only ourselves to blame.

"We had the lead and we let it slip through our own decision-making really"
, he added.

 


Eyebrows were raised in some quarters at Lennon opting to play McGregor out of position as a left-back in a flat back four.

But the Celtic boss insists that the left hand side of defence was not the issue and praised McGregor for the level of his performance on the night.

Lennon added: "People can point at that but he did set up our equaliser and I thought he had a very good game.

"I don’t think the left side was really the problem tonight."


The Bhoys boss is now ready to work hard to pick his players up, especially as he is aware big criticism will come their way.

"We’ve got to work with the players. We’ve got to raise their morale, first of all.

"We’re going to get a bit of criticism and that’s totally par for the course.

"We’ve worked really hard to get where we are we’ve basically thrown it away. We’ve got some good defenders but for some reason they wanted to slow the game down."


Following the loss, Celtic will go into the Europa League and will play a qualifier to reach the group stage.