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That sinking feeling returns
Published : 27 Aug 2010 06:50:00
Just what can Neil Lennon do about the mental attitude of his players A stunned Neil Lennon admitted the Europa League exit at the hands of Utrecht left him feeling as bad as after the infamous shock defeat to Ross County in the Active Nation Scottish Cup last season. He said: ''It feels as bad as Ross County, yeah. We had a decent advantage and we only needed to score one goal. But it's the overall performance, we were second best in just about every area really. The first penalty was soft and for the second we shot ourselves in the foot. We've gone one down and just need to weather it and we get one goal and win the game. But we never gave ourselves a chance. Refereeing decisions? I'm not going to go on about the referee because that would take away from a poor display. I would just be making an excuse, but two penalties is really poor from us. I hope they're not a happy dressing room. Right throughout the middle of the team we were poor. We said, 'look you might have to weather a storm for 15 minutes.' But we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. That's three penalties in two away games we have given away and then we are not giving ourselves a chance. At half time we said we were still well in the tie. We just need to score a goal and they have to get two. But I was just about to get back in my seat when we were 3-0 down. So it's just a poor performance overall and I take full responsibility for that myself.'' Celtic had now won just once in 27 games on the road which meant that Lennon was never entirely comfortable going into the match. However, he admits there was also a problem with the mentality of his team. He said: ''What I said afterwards is probably best left to the privacy of the dressing room, but again I can't keep going on about home truths. I said everything I wanted to say after Ross County and I'm not just going to blame the players this time. Myself and my staff have to carry the can for this as well. I never had any illusions about where we are. I was always wary of this tie but didn't think we would play as badly as that. The mentality problem is there. There is no doubt about it.'' Pre-match Utrecht coach Ton du Chatinier was confident his side would mount a decent challenge with home advantage but admitted he was surprised by how comfortably they were able to overcome the visitors. He said: ''We thought they were tougher than they played. At home, they played very well and were very sharp. Utrecht are not so strong away from home but at home we are a very, very strong team.''