Celtic boss Neil Lennon has had his managerial credentials ripped into over the past 10 days. He’s taken a verbal beating.

His tactics and team selections have been slaughtered by pundits. His summer signings and more established stars have been mauled by ex-players.

Even his mannerisms and demeanour on the touchline are being scrutinised and used by some fans as a stick to beat him with. Lennon might admit he’s suffered worse than this in the past as a Celtic player and manager. But even so there’s only so much one man can take.

Last night inside the confines of Lennoxtown the Celtic manager appeared to reach that very point and the responses were both sharp and defiant.

Hysterical, negative, panic, unpalatable – some of the adjectives he used as he attempted to sum up a gross overreaction to the current situation regarding his team’s recent form and results.

This wasn’t the soundings of the man at the end of his tether. Quite the opposite. Lennon sounded like a man fiercely proud of his achievements and determined to stand up for himself and his players.

He said: “I’ve been through a lot worse than this, a lot worse, be it either as a player or as a manager.

“It requires some perspective. I can’t control the hysteria but what I can control is what we do on the training ground and what we do in the games.

“It hasn’t been great this week. It’s been a tough week. But we’re entitled to a tough week now and again.

“It’s how we react to that in a positive manner that counts.”

The week in question started with the loss to Rangers. That carried into the defeat by Milan then the 3-3 draw at Aberdeen three days ago. Missing players due to injuries and Covid and the subsequent disruption to the ranks carries no weight with snipers.

Yet Lennon chose to point out some statistical facts. He said: “If we’d seen out Sunday’s game at Aberdeen instead of conceding a last-minute equaliser we’d have had exactly the same points total as we had at the same stage last year and that was a fantastic season.

“Not every season is the same, of course. You’re always trying to improve but that’s not always possible. We’re two points behind where we were last time out so we’re all right.

“There’s a lot of hysteria around which we can’t control. We’re just trying to stay as focused as we possibly can and trying to enjoy it as well because there were a lot of good things came out of Sunday’s game.

“Everybody picks up on the negatives but there were a lot of good things as well. The players showed plenty of good character to come back from 1-0 down. When we were 2-1 down we got it to 3-2.

“It would have been a great win under the circumstances but we had to settle for a point.

“There is no panic here, no hysteria. We’re actually looking forward to the games.

“We are very tight. The players are in a good place. I do think they’re getting scrutinised to the nth degree. Some of the individual criticism is unpalatable but it’s my job to protect them from that and show trust in them. And I do trust them.

“They’re a brilliant bunch of boys. They’ve proved themselves time and time again. We’re only in October. We’ve got a lot of work to do but that’s no different to any other season really.”

If Lennon is miffed at some of the attacks on his players, he finds the scrutiny of his touchline behaviour baffling.

In his first spell he was tagged as too fiery. Having returned as a more measured and mature manager his critics now want to claim he’s not fesity enough, as if he doesn’t even care.

Lennon said: “It’s absolute nonsense. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

“People are just looking for things that aren’t there. My demeanour since coming back 18 months ago has not changed one bit.”

What has changed in recent years is expectations. Demands have always been there yet unbridled success means people just
want more.

Lennon said: “There has definitely been a sea change in the mentality but I think in the main our supporters are fantastic.

“They probably are feeling it a bit this season compared to any other but they give us fantastic support. It’s a shame they’re not in the stadiums.”

Asked if 10 in a row just adds to the hysteria, Lennon added: “I don’t know how people are feeling about it. For me you set your stall out at the start of the season. The league is the priority and that’s not changed.

“You work your season around that. We’ve done okay and these players are consistent winners. We’ve lost a game of football and
all of a sudden everyone wants the whole thing turned around. That’s wrong.”