Hibs boss Neil Lennon’s best quotes from season 2017/18

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Back in March last year, Neil Lennon raised a few eyebrows when he stated that the club’s aim on return to the Ladbrokes Premiership was to finish “best of the rest”.

It is the bullishness you expect of such an engaging and opinionated character, especially one with such steadfast belief in his ability and that of his team.

Throughout the season, the Hibs boss has continued to provide headlines, insight and amusement with his dealings with the media.

Here are some of his best quotes from the season ...

Efe Ambrose got on the wrong side of the Northern Irishman in pre-season:

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon

“I can’t get a hold of him at all. He was given a wee bit of time off, but I think he is pushing the boundaries at the minute. The sooner he is back, for his sake, the better. I expected him back a lot sooner than this and it will be getting discussed behind closed doors. He’s got that to look forward to when he gets back!”

On Kyle Lafferty reneging on his word that he would talk to Hibs about a transfer:

“Lafferty does not have to apologise to Hibs or me, but agent Keith Gillespie and his partner did not come to Edinburgh for a day out, they came to agree business.”

Lennon had a warning for clubs interested in John McGinn:

“It’s going to take a huge bid from any club to take John away from us, £4-5 million. He’s still got a bit to do but already he is a quality player. He’s a Scottish international.”

Lennon enjoyed himself during the 3-2 win at Ibrox, infuritating Rangers fans in the process:

“I am celebrating a goal. What way are you supposed to celebrate a goal? If I pick my nose someone will find something to criticise me for, I am celebrating a goal.”

He shot back at a statement released by Club 1872, Rangers’ second-largest shareholders:

“Why it was front page news? There is so much more going on in Scotland and around the world and there I find myself on the front page on Monday for celebrating a goal. It is disproportionate.”

Lennon also had words for then-Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha:

“So, other than kiss his feet, how much respect does he want me to give him?”

The Hibs boss appeared at the Fringe in an interveiw with former First Minister Alex Salmond:

“Dealing with the English press is like swimming with dolphins and dealing the Scottish press is like swimming with sharks.”

On losing 3-1 to Hamilton in August:

“I’m not going to over-analyse it. We had a brilliant start to the season but now I don’t want people thinking this is the old Hibs, going to Ibrox and winning and then losing to Hamilton.”

Lennon accused Nottingham Forest of trying to unsettle McGinn:

“Mark Warburton knows the Scottish market and John is under contract for two years. “(Maybe it was) to unsettle the player? Which doesn’t please me. Maybe Mark might see it differently.”

On signing a new deal at Easter Road:

“I hope the fans are as pleased as I am, I’m not too sure the players are! I’ve got a target that I want to make Hibs a big club, a big force in Scottish football.”

And he had strong words for those players after letting a two-goal lead slip at home to Motherwell:

“It’s a total lack of mental strength.”

Lennon returned to Celtic Park as an opposing manager for the first time in September:

“If we get beat, the [reception I’ll get] will mean nothing. I still have to go home and kick the cat and analyse what went wrong.”

On beating Hearts 1-0 at Easter Road in the first derby of the season in October:

“I think the scoreline flatters Hearts, I thought we were thoroughly dominant. I have been involved in a lot of derbies and that’s as good as any in terms of the performance and the feeling I have got out of it.”

And words on the Twitter spat involving midfielder Marvin Bartley and Hearts’ Ross Callachan:

“It’s unnecessary, whether it be banter or I don’t know if things were going on before or during the game. I don’t really advocate that sort of stuff.”

The Hibs boss asked for more protection for his players:

“No-one was more physical than myself, but I played within the rules of the game. If you are fouling three or four times in a game where is the yellow card?”

Lennon couldn’t hide his delight at centre-back Paul Hanlon winning a Scotland call-up:

“He’s quick, which is always a good asset. He reads the game well and he has prowess in the air. He doesn’t look a 6ft 4in Grant Hanley-type, but his timing in the air in both boxes has been excellent.”

As Hibs manager, Lennon is glad to be out of the Glasgow fishbowl:

“There’s certainly a far more relaxed atmosphere through here - it’s not as intense. There’s a good rivalry with Hearts but it’s a lot more sociable, I suppose. There’s a lot more humour to it – it’s not got the same darkness or sinister aspect that the Old Firm has.”

On being touted for the Northern Ireland job:

“I don’t like the feast or famine aspect to it.”

Lennon wants a team of Darren McGregors:

”He’s a really good type and he loves the club. If I had 11 Darren McGregors, my job would be stress free.”

Hamilton were on the receiving end of Lennon’s wrath after a 1-1 draw at the SuperSeal Stadium in November:

“There was one team trying to play football and the other team trying to kick the c**p out of the opposition. We got no protection at all. We are going to lose John McGinn, he will either go to England or end up in hospital. No protection for him whatsoever, it was caveman stuff.”

And he wasn’t happy with his players during their 4-1 loss at Aberdeen in December:

“We were so abject that Cowdenbeath would beat us today, comfortably.”

Lennon was left frustrated when officials failed to spot striker Oli Shaw’s strike going over the line during a 0-0 draw with Hearts:

“We talk about video assistant referees but we don’t have that. This was a huge game, live on television and it makes a mockery of the game sometimes.”

He was also frustrated with Hearts’ tactics in the December meeting:

“It was the same at Easter Road, we outplayed them but they kicked us off the park, and they were trying to do the same thing again.”

Hearts won the Scottish Cup fourth round clash between the sides in January with a scrappy goal which crept over the line:

“It was nice to see the linesman doing his job properly on that side ...”

It then started a back and forth between the managers after Hearts boss made comments about the “natural order” of the derby:

“It’s just a crock of c**p. It’s a pretty poor statement to make and I think it’s disrespectful to my club, my players and me. We have got two more games to come so we will see if the natural order is restored then.”

Levein’s said it was a good laugh. Lennon disagreed:

“I didn’t find it funny... so the gloves are off now.”

The Hibs boss was left exasperated by striker Anthony Stokes who left the club during the season:

“There is a line that I won’t tolerate, and Anthony had plenty of chances not to cross that line.”

Lennon compared Hibs’ 2-1 win at Ibrox to beating Barcelona with Celtic:

“That’s right up there for me in my managerial career, next to Barcelona under the circumstances with the injuries.”

On mental health in Scottish sport:

“It’s not a test of your masculinity, it’s a test of your health. So I’m very pleased that Scottish football are doing something positive about that.”

Lennon had strong words for officialdom after being sent to the stands during the 2-2 draw at Kilmarnock:

“It’s amateur, it’s Mickey Mouse stuff. It needs to get better, it’s not good enough.”

On his reaction to be being sent off at Rugby Park:

“My reaction to the sending-off was regrettable.”

Lennon dismissed Hearts after the 2-0 win at Easter Road:

“They are irrelevant to us now. We are looking up the table rather than what’s behind us.”

On life in the public eye:

“You become paranoid. You have to watch every thing that you do and that’s totally unfair, particularly with high-profile sports personalities.”

He hit back at Rangers regarding their statement criticising Hibs for cutting their ticket allocation for Easter Road:

“It was a bit crass really. They didn’t even get the day right, for a start.”

Lennon joked about the Tynecastle pitch ahead of this month’s derby:

“I’m delighted to see grass on it.”

And spoke of the Hearts-Hibs dynamic:

“We are the better team. We could lose tonight, but the league table tells you that we are 20 points clear. Twenty points. That is a chasm.”

His comments after the 2-1 derby defeat shocked everyone:

“I will reconsider my position now over the summer. Just in general, I have things to think about myself, my own aims and ambitions, my own personal reasons but I cannot watch that in a derby – it’s not good enough.”

He responded to his comments:

“I think my comments have put unnecessary scrutiny and analysis on the board and that’s not fair. There’s no split or animosity or anything like that. I’ve had great backing from the board all season. I’m sure I’ll continue to do so.”

Lennon stood by his celebration towards the Rangers fan after Hibs equalised to make it 5-5 on Sunday:

“They are singing sectarian songs at me. It’s just a little bit of ‘have some of that’. It was worth it. Trust me.”

And he had a word for his players:

“They should be very proud of themselves – the fans are and I am.”