CELTIC MANAGER NEIL Lennon dug deep into his reserves of sarcasm to dismiss claims by former Barcelona player and manager Bernd Schuster that the Scottish champions did not deserve to be playing Champions League football.
The German, who also played for and managed Real Madrid, said after the game at the Nou Camp which saw the Glasgow side lose 2-1 to a last-minute goal after a mainly backs-to-the-wall performance: “I’m fed up of seeing these type of matches. There should not be teams like Celtic in the Champions League.”
However, the Parkhead side were widely praised for their display and Lennon dismissed Schuster’s criticism by saying: “It’s just the ramblings of someone who has failed as a coach.”
“I am disappointed that the media here wanted to emphasise his thoughts on the game. I was sitting there 60 minutes into the game thinking ‘God, what is Bernd Schuster thinking of our performance here, I better change it’.”
He added: “I didn’t set out to be defensive but sometimes Barcelona can get a grip of the opposition and not let go.
“So I don’t take too much notice of Bernd Schuster, I am more into the thoughts of Gordon Strachan, Martin O’Neill and the Alex Fergusons of this world, who I would take advice from before anyone else.”
Speaking to the Scottish Sun newspaper, Schuster had accused Lennon’s side of being too negative, taking a surprise early lead and retreating into a defensive shell.
“We saw it last year with Chelsea. It was a very bad example for football and it is regrettable that they became European champions,” he said. “You see Celtic defending with 10 men and almost snatching a point – that is not fair.
“I believe the coach of Celtic viewed many times the video of Chelsea last season against Barcelona.
“He decided to repeat the system, but the ultra-defensive system is not football.
“Chelsea have now generated a school for teams like Celtic to study. It would have been unjust if a team that defended with 10 men had taken one point in the home of the best club in the world.
“UEFA needs to change this phase of the competition if they want to breathe life into the Champions League.
“Celtic do not merit their place if they are going to play in this style.”