Lennon backing for defensive Smith

17 September 2010 03:39
Celtic boss Neil Lennon admits he would have no qualms about copying the defensive tactics of Old Firm counterpart Walter Smith.

The Rangers boss was heavily criticised in many quarters for the 5-4-1 formation he employed in holding Manchester United to a goalless draw in their Champions League Group C opener at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

After suffering embarrassment in last season's Champions League campaign where they finished bottom of their group with two points, Smith is determined to avoid a repeat this season and will look for his players to grind out results the way they did when reaching the final of the UEFA Cup in 2008.

Asked if he would have any problems about "parking the bus" in similar style, the Celtic boss replied: "No. If it meant getting a result I might have to do that every now and again.

"I know it's not everyone's cup of tea and I'm sure Walter wouldn't want to play that way the majority of the time but he felt it was the way to go and he's been justified in that.

"It was a great point and it would be interesting to see how many teams go to Old Trafford this season and come away with a 0-0 draw

"I don't know if Walter is going to adopt that approach every game.

"It might just be for specific games where he feels they are going to be under pressure a lot and I think that you can be going to Old Trafford.

"He gets this sort of reputation as being a negative manager but if you look at the players he has brought in this season, Weiss, Jelavic and Beattie, they are attacking players who will create more than destroy."

The Irishman continued: "Listen, first things first, it's results.

"If you can win with a bit of style then even better.

"But there will be days when I might have to grind out results, even at home.

"If we play poorly and win I will be happy with that."

Smith complained that the financial structure of Champions League weighs heavily in the favour of the European superpowers but Lennon claims it was ever thus.

"It seems to be the bigger clubs benefit from the way the Champions League is set up but you know that before you go in to the competition and you can say that about a lot of sports," he said.

"For instance, Wimbledon is set up for the top seeds.

"Overall, everyone wants to see the big performers play at the highest level, at the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

"The beauty of sport is that every now and again sport throws up the underdog who goes on to surprise everyone and you get a clubs who defy the odds, like Porto and Monaco.

"But I can understand why UEFA would do it, to make money."

Lennon dismissed reports that Scott Brown was being targeted by Juventus and Inter Milan as "speculation" but insists his skipper is good enough to play in Italy.

He said: "I think he is a very good player. I think it is just speculation at the minute but it wouldn't surprise me.

"I think he could play there, yes. A lot of people don't, but I do.

"He's been a very consistent performer for me and I probably wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for the likes of Scott Brown."

Lennon revealed he would be speaking to Georgios Samaras's representative about a new contract next month.

However, the former Celtic skipper refuted one report which claimed that youngster James Forrest, who will miss the trip to Kilmarnock on Sunday with a sprained ankle, will be offered a new contract.

Lennon said: "No. He signed a contract recently, last year or the year before and he has two or three years left on his contract but if he keeps progressing the way he is doing we will have a look at it."

Source: Team_Talk


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