Hibs skipper David Gray reveals shock at boss Neil Lennon’s suspension
Hibs skipper David Gray has revealed how he was stunned to hear that head coach Neil Lennon had been suspended by the club only hours after what he believed was nothing more than a routine team meeting.
The Northern Irishman had gathered his squad together on Friday afternoon to analyse their defeat by Motherwell two days earlier but Gray only discovered the dramatic turn of events as he watched television later that evening.
Lennon and his assistant Garry Parker – who has also been told to stay away from the club – were missing as Hibs came from behind to clinch their first win in six league matches, beating the Premiership’s bottom club St Mirren in Paisley.
Simeon Jackson had put the Buddies ahead at half-time, but in a stunning 45 minutes, the Capital side came roaring back with an equaliser from substitute Oli Shaw before goals from former Saints players Darren McGregor and Stevie Mallan clinched a much-needed and morale-boosting win.
Gray insisted Lennon’s relationship with his players - whom he’d criticised in the wake of recent results - was exactly the same now as it was when he first took charge of the club following Alan Stubbs’ surprise departure only days after the historic 2016 Scottish Cup win.
He said: “I think it was the same as when he first came in. The last two-and-a-half years since the manager joined the club we have been moving forward all the time. It has been really good.
“Results have not been fantastic recently. In terms of the relationship between the players and the manager it has always been the same. That’s just the way it was. The run of results has not been good.
“Everyone knows there was a meeting, it was nothing to do with anything out of the ordinary. It is just the way the game goes. We knew and take responsibility for our own performances.
“It was just a normal debrief of the game.
“We knew it was not the right result. Like I say, attention purely turned towards St Mirren. It was about us bouncing back as players. You are always going to question the character of the boys when you lose a game.
“The lads were hurting after Wednesday night. We knew the challenge facing us – St Mirren was going to be a tough game because they are down at the bottom of league fighting for their lives and it was live on the telly too.”
Gray insisted it wasn’t until late on Friday night he discovered what was happening with Lennon.
“It came out on Sky,” said the 30-year-old. “That’s the first time I was made aware of it. Then the next again day there was a meeting about the football department saying ‘listen we have a job to do, what goes on goes on’. It’s above our head. We just see what happens.
“You are always shocked in that situation.
“I don’t think there is any other way to put it. The run of results has not been good. The players take full responsibility for that.
“There is no other way of looking at it. We were looking at ourselves thinking things need to be better. That’s how it is in football. You need to react. Thankfully we managed to put that right.
“We knew how important it was to get three points after the run we’ve been on, and that’s what all our focus was on. Thankfully, we have been able to do that. Now we turn our attention to Aberdeen.”