Five flashpoints from Neil Lennon’s Hibernian tenure
Neil Lennon has rarely been out of the headlines during his spell in charge of Hibernian. He oversaw success during his first two seasons but has found the going tougher this campaign, with Hibs sitting in eighth. But, regardless of the happenings on the field, flashpoints have never been far away on the touchline. We look at a some of the more notable incidents during his tenure.
Confrontation with Jim Duffy (March, 2017)
With the clock running down on a 0-0 draw with Morton which left Hibernian 10 points clear in the Championship title race, Lennon found himself engaged in a touchline rammy with his opposite number, Jim Duffy.
In the last few seconds, Morton’s Kudus Oyenuga flew into a tackle on Jordon Forster which enraged Lennon. Jostling and angry words followed, with both Duffy and Lennon sent off in the aftermath. The argument continued to simmer in the press for a few days afterwards, with Duffy having to deny that he’d offered out his Easter Road counterpart for a ‘square go’. Both managers were eventually given two-game bans.
A much-anticipated meeting at Cappielow later in the season ended on a conciliatory note, with hugs and a handshake.
Referee criticism (February, 2018)
Lennon found himself in hot water with the SFA after he criticised referee Kevin Clancy for awarding Kilmarnock a controversial penalty during a 2-2 draw. Lennon was asked to leave the technical area after remonstrating with the fourth official and sarcastically clapping Clancy.
In an interview with BBC Scotland post-match, Lennon suggested that the standard of refereeing during the season had “cost us a lot of points” and that his outburst was caused by “incompetence and guess-work.” He was given a three-match suspension by the authorities in March.
Lennon hit by a coin during the Edinburgh derby (October, 2018)
After celebrating the decision to disallow a late Hearts goal during a tempestuous 0-0 derby draw at Tynecastle, Lennon was struck by a coin from the home end.
The Hibs manager fell to the ground and, although he soon returned to his feet, was understandably furious with the supporter who’d thrown the missile. It followed on from an incident earlier in the game, when Hearts’ keeper Bobby Zlamal appeared to be struck by a fan in the Hibs end.
The aeroplane celebration (May, 2018)
The culmination of a first season back in the Premiership, Hibs came from 5-3 behind on the final day to snatch a draw against Rangers thanks to a stoppage time goal from Jamie Maclaren.
Delighted, Lennon ran onto the pitch towards the Rangers fans, arms outstretched in an ‘aeroplane’ celebration. He was sent off by referee Andrew Dallas and, despite it triggering a two-match suspended ban, admitted in interviews after the game he was unrepentant.
“I was getting a bit of stick off the Rangers supporters as you can imagine,” he said.
“I just gave them it back and got sent off. But I’ll take it. It was worth it.”
Florian Kamberi criticism (December, 2018)
Kamberi’s nine Premiership goals during his loan spell during the 2017/18 season had helped propel Hibs to a fourth-place finish and his performances were enough to convince Lennon to sign him on a permanent deal prior to the start of this season.
However, despite a promising start to the campaign, the Swiss striker has struggled in recent months, scoring only one league goal since mid-October.
His form lead to public criticism from Lennon, who bemoaned Kamberi and his strike partner, Jamie Maclaren’s, lack of effort. “They’re not applying themselves, they’re not working hard enough,” he said following a draw with Livingston in December.
Lennon went further with his comments on Kamberi in the aftermath of that result, claiming that he wasn’t as ‘hungry’ as the previous season and that there had been ‘no response’ from the striker to Lennon’s attempts to motivate him.