McGhee: Lennon right to stand firm

Mark McGhee insists Neil Lennon should not walk away from his job as Celtic manager despite threats to his personal safety.

Mark McGhee insists Neil Lennon should not walk away from his job as Celtic manager despite threats to his personal safety.

Strathclyde Police are investigating two viable parcel bombs sent to Lennon, who has been targeted along with Celtic supporters Paul McBride QC and MSP Trish Godman.

McGhee believes Lennon should be given credit for the way he has coped with an unprecedented situation as he, like the rest of Scottish football, condemned the actions of those responsible.

“It’s just so ludicrous,” said the former Hoops striker, who played for the club between 1985 and 89.

“Someone who does that, do they think the postman hands it to Neil Lennon? That there’s no-one in-between that could have been badly injured? It’s just senseless.

“It’s shocking and the quicker they find out who the idiot is, the better.”

McGhee, who has been linked with the Celtic job in the past, was asked if he would be tempted to walk away in Lennon’s position and replied: “No, I think it would be the opposite.

“So many good people, not only at these football clubs but in society, whether it’s in Northern Ireland or Scotland, are faced with these sort of problems and they stand up to it.

“Neil is entitled to, and is right to, go on.

“He deserves a great deal of credit for the mental toughness he has shown in the face of it. He comes from a background where he has lived it, so he can handle it.

“He’s got good mates around and they are going to be really important.

“The other people at the club – Peter Lawwell, John Reid and Dermot Desmond - they have to be solid behind him, as the fans were.

“Neil is a guy who has been through things, he comes from a background where he’s aware of these sort of things so he will handle it as well as anyone.”

McGhee himself has experienced first-hand the difficulties that come from being involved with either half of the Old Firm but acknowledged that Lennon’s worries are on a completely different scale and praised him for his handling of the situation.

He said: “I had nothing that even remotely resembles anything that’s happening at the moment.

“At the time when I was playing, the singing and sectarian chanting was much more freely allowed, there wasn’t the awareness of it being such a problem. You would go into games and it would be going on.

“I often thought afterwards, I wish I had had the bottle to make some sort of statement or protest. You live in that environment and there is fear as well.

“That’s why Neil standing up to it is admirable because it’s real, it’s a real threat.

“At the time I used to hear things and think it wasn’t right but I never did anything about it. Thankfully, nowadays, everyone is much more savvy and more conscious of how wrong it is.”

Lennon put his off-field issues to one side to guide Celtic to a 4-0 win at Kilmarnock last night as they moved within a point of Rangers ahead of Sunday’s Old Firm derby.

And McGhee believes the events of the last 24 hours have succeeded only in galvanising the club.

He said: “In these sort of circumstances, you always try to accentuate the positives and use it to your advantage.

“Certainly, I think there would be a bit of a siege mentality created by the circumstances this week.

“It’s quite interesting looking ahead to the [Old Firm] game as to what the atmosphere will be like, how both sets of supporters will feel about not only the game, but what’s gone on.

“You think you’ve seen it all with the Old Firm and another set of circumstances turn up that we’ve not seen.”

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