MJALLBY STANDS BY HIS MAN
Johan Mjallby believes Neil Lennon is doing a great job for Celtic and claims simple frustration has led to the Parkhead manager's recent conflict with officials.
Lennon will start a two-match touchline ban against Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday for criticising referee Willie Collum following the Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat by Kilmarnock at Hampden last month.
There was no further punishment imposed on the Northern Irishman for being sent to the stand at the interval by Calum Murray during the 3-2 defeat by Rangers the following week, but Lennon will be in trouble for running onto the pitch to confront referee Euan Norris following last Sunday's William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Hearts at Hampden.
The former Celtic skipper, who has still to explain to the SFA comments made about referees before the SPL game against St Johnstone at the start of the month, will be in more hot water following remarks he made on his Twitter account after the Hearts game.
He tweeted: "Referee told players he thought (Victor) Wanyama handled...feel so sorry for players and fans..I think it's personal myself."
Lennon later re-tweeted a comment from Celtic supporter @DazDiCanio which suggested the club: "pack our bags and get out of this league that is run by crooked £SFA officials".
The Celtic boss, widely criticised this week for his behaviour, did not appear at the club's weekly press conference, his place taken by assistant Mjallby.
Asked if his former Celtic team mate should change his conduct the big Swede retorted: "No. I think he is doing a great job for the club.
"It is not really my place to speak for Neil but I don't really have a problem with officials, I'm not too sure Neil has got a problem with officials.
"But you are always entitled to react as a manager because it is his job to protect the team and the players.
"I would say so (it is down to frustration) there is always a danger of saying something about what you are not too happy about straight after games.
"A lot of times what Neil has been doing or saying has been blown out of proportion as well.
"I think he will calm down in the future, you have to remember, he is not brand new but he has not been in the job too long.
"A lot of manager who have been in the job for a long time, they were a bit more aggressive, a bit more passionate at the start of their career but then they mellow down a bit."
Mjallby believes Lennon was "vindicated" by his decision to challenge the SFA over his sending off at Ibrox.
There was no further punishment from an SFA judicial panel at yesterday's hearing at Hampden, despite the Hoops boss accepting a misconduct charge after clashing with fourth official Iain Brines.
However, it is understood that the SFA did not pursue accusations of insulting and abusive language over discussions with Brines and with Murray in the referee's room at half-time.
Mjallby said: "It was a private hearing and we are not going to discuss it but the verdict is there and Neil was vindicated by the decision from the SFA in that he didn't get any suspension from that game.
"I was extremely surprised at the time that he was sent to the stand, I was surprised that he was not allowed to do his job in the second half.
"I don't really know why, I think it was because he acted in an aggressive manner.
"But it was a fair hearing and we are happy with the outcome when it comes to what happened at the Old Firm game.
"But we are disappointed that our manager is not able to do his job for two games."
Mjallby insists champions Celtic will be going out to win their five remaining SPL fixtures to finish the season in style, while also giving some of the young players a chance to show what they can do.
"We still have a target to win all five games, first and foremost, and then to get more points than last year," he said.
"We have a squad of 21 or 22 players and during the five games there will be a few young faces.
"Some of the boys have a chance to show if they really want to be part of the future."
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