Celtic boss blasts critics over Elyounoussi controversy

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has fought back after pundits had criticised Mohamed Elyounoussi during the Europa League match against Sparta Prague last week.

In Celtic’s shocking 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague last Thursday, Neil Lennon subbed off Mohamed Elyounoussi in the second half. Once he arrived on the bench, the player was caught by the cameras looking at his cell phone, and the manager was obviously irate when he learned about it after the match.

It brought quick reactions from pundits Chris Sutton, Paul Lambert and Kris Boyd, who condemned the actions as if he was disinterested in the match after having no real impact on play.

They questioned the Norwegian winger’s commitment and quickly called for Lennon to even fine him a portion of his wages, as if his actions were some crime against football.

Elyounoussi more than redeemed himself, however, scoring a hat trick on the weekend in a 4-1 victory against Motherwell to put Celtic back on track in the Premiership. The winger was absolutely superb, and easily proved his “commitment” to the game that Sutton was so quick to question.

Speaking with Sky Sports after the match, Lennon was quick to defend Elyounoussi and his actions over the past week, saying:

“He comes in from criticism from outside, not from us. I had a brief chat with him. He explained to me what had happened and that was the end of it. You are all analysing everything we are doing at the minute. Elyounoussi on his phone and the body language and this, that and the other. We said to him at half-time, ‘you had two at Lille last week and you didn’t get your hat-trick, go and get it today’.”

In doing so, Lennon continued his trend thus far of outright defending his players against the continuous criticism from the Scottish media, as he should.

As reported by the Belfast Telegraph, he continued his defence of the in-form winger, saying:

“I got what I wanted today. Elyounoussi scored a hat-trick today after being criticized unreasonably for looking at a result on his phone the other night.”

The 26-year-old winger on loan with the Hoops from English side Southampton for a second-straight season has proven his worth thus far this season, with 10 goals and 4 assists through 18 appearances for Lennon’s side, being one of the rare shining lights in what has been a disappointing start to the 10IAR campaign.