Mjallby reveals title fears

JOHAN MJALLBY fears this season will be remembered more for the controversy surrounding Celtic boss Neil Lennon than who won the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

The Hoops assistant again took over media duties from the Irishman who was the subject of an attack by a fan during the 3-0 win against Hearts at Tynecastle on Wednesday night. Lennon, who had a bullet sent to him earlier in the season, has had round-the-clock security since the first of two parcel bombs addressed to him was intercepted at a Royal Mail sorting office in March.

Another package containing what appeared to be a bullet was delivered to him at Celtic Park on Thursday.

At the club’s Lennoxtown training ground ahead of tomorrow’s crunch game against Motherwell at Parkhead, where the Hoops could clinch the title if they get a better result than Rangers at Kilmarnock, Mjallby addressed the question of whether achievements on the pitch will be ultimately overshadowed by the treatment of Lennon off it.

“It would a shame if that is to be the outcome,” said the Swede. “Both teams are competing for the title and doing a good job, so we have to wait and see what the outcome is going to be. I think it is a bit disappointing he has been in the limelight when it comes to matters outside football.

“And now we want to focus on the last two competitive games of the season, two very important ones.”

“Right now the focus is on us winning the game and then we have to hope that Kilmarnock can do us a favour.”

Meanwhile, Walter Smith is desperate for Rangers to clinch a third successive title tomorrow and see his players finally earn the credit he feels they have been denied so far.

The visit to Kilmarnock will be Smith’s final game as Rangers manager but the 63-year-old is adamant the occasion will not be about him.

He said: “On Tuesday night, I got the credit for what has gone previously. At times, the players’ input to that level of success hasn’t been fully appreciated and they can cement that by winning on Sunday.

“We have been playing well recently and, if we win the game, I would hope the focus of attention would be placed firmly on the team.”

Financial worries before Craig Whyte’s takeover was finally completed last week has meant a period of uncertainty for both management and playing staff in recent years. And Smith says few players would have been willing to endure the difficult circumstances his squad have coped with.

He said: “What’s kept them going is what has kept them going over the last two-and-a-half-years – there has been a spirit, there has been a determination and there has been a good level of football. I don’t think we can forget that.

“I sometimes think a number of them don’t get the praise they deserve for the level of performance they have turned in.

“Sunday’s game is everything for them and there are not many teams who manage to win three championships in a row no matter where you’re from.”

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