Lennon unable to savour derby day

22 October 2010 09:01
eil Lennon says he no longer enjoys the build-up to Old Firm derbies now he is manager of Celtic.

The former captain no doubt relished the battles with Rangers as a player but now sees the famous fixture differently from the dugout.

He drew first blood by claiming victory over their bitter rivals as interim boss when Celtic ran out 2-1 winners at Parkhead back in May.

Lennon now prepares to do battle with Walter Smith again this weekend in a hugely-anticipated first Old Firm derby of the season.

With plenty at stake for both teams, the Hoops boss knows it is a clash most observers are looking forward to but says he is unable to savour the anticipation himself.

Speaking on the club's Channel 67, Lennon said: "I think everyone else is looking forward to it but I have other things to think about, in terms of team selection and preparation.

"I am pretty much engrossed in all that at the minute. I am looking forward to it and I am looking forward to seeing how the team handles a very good Rangers team.

"But the derby games, for managers, are not the most enjoyable experiences."

Rangers and Celtic are both locked on 24 points at the top of the SPL, with respective 100% records in the league so far.

That means something has to give this weekend but Lennon refused to become caught up in the hype surrounding the match.

"We'll try to keep a lid on things and not get carried away," he said.

"Other people will hype the game up and we can't control that, so we'll just try to concentrate on winning a game of football."

For Celtic winger Niall McGinn, an Old Firm debut this weekend would be the ideal way to put his injury problems firmly in the past.

McGinn has yet to feature for the club this season, after battling back to fitness following five months on the sidelines with a broken metatarsal.

He played in Northern Ireland's games against Italy and the Faroe Islands, as well as a friendly against Falkirk in midweek.

The 23-year-old has told boss Lennon he is now fit and ready for action if called upon on Sunday.

"It's always good when a derby match against Rangers comes around," said McGinn.

"Every time the fixtures come out, it's probably the first one I look for. I've been on the bench at one of the games but have still to play in one.

"Hopefully, come Sunday, I am on the bench again and with a bit of luck I will get some game-time.

"It would be unbelievable. I grew up watching the Glasgow derby, so the opportunity to play in one would be unbelievable.

"If I get the opportunity to play, I'll just enjoy every minute of it but, more important, is having a win at the end of it."

Meanwhile, Lennon has reiterated his unhappiness over referee Dougie McDonald's decision to rescind a penalty awarded to Celtic in last week's 2-1 win over Dundee United.

"I accepted the explanation, but still the decision rankles with me," said the Hoops boss.

"I did the interview after the game and then I went to see the referee. I accepted his explanation of why he changed his mind, but I still don't agree with it."

Source: Team_Talk