Lennon leaps to Levein defence

Lennon leaps to Levein defence

Published Sep. 14, 2012 3:16 p.m. ET

Celtic boss Neil Lennon believes Craig Levein has come in for unfair criticism in the wake of Scotland's opening two 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

A goalless draw against Serbia and a 1-1 draw with Macedonia, both at Hampden, have left the Scots two points behind Serbia, Belgium and Croatia at the top of Group A.

With the chances of reaching Brazil in two year's time in doubt, Levein is under severe pressure going into the double-header away to Wales and Belgium next month.

However, Lennon leapt to the defence of the national team boss, claiming personal agendas are driving some of his critics.


"I feel for him a little bit," said the Celtic manager

"But he is big enough and strong enough and he is trying to do the right thing and play the right way.

"My own thoughts are that some of these people take personal issues and make it public through a newspaper and that's not the right place or time to do that.

"Certainly some of the stuff I read today was pretty crass, way off the mark and uneducated and just basically some of it is having a go for the sake of having a go.

"It is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. I think we fly off the handle very quickly.

"Ideally you want to win your home games but that can be rectified pretty quickly if you pick up points away from home so Scotland are far from out of the group.

"Sometimes players need to hold their hands up and say 'I didn't do as well as I should have done there'.

"On reflection of both the games, the players can play better but it is far too early to say they are not going to qualify."

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall remains optimistic that Scotland can turn the atmosphere around next month.

The former Scotland midfielder, who played in three major finals for his country, said: "People forget, when we qualified we did it by goal difference and the odd point. There is such a thin line.

"We haven't had a great start to the campaign, everyone accepts that, and at the moment there is a little bit of doom and gloom.

"But we have just got to look forward to the double header against Wales and Belgium and hopefully come out fighting.

"If we go down to Wales, that will all be changed. We'll have 10,000 going to Belgium, because we are desperate to support a bit of success.

"In the squad that Craig has got, there are players who are hopefully good enough to bounce back and get the results we need to get back in there fighting.

"Everyone accepts that two games at home without a victory is disappointing but there is still a long, long way to go."