Lennon tells Hibs: Lift team-mates by having a go at them

Neil Lennon wants his players to show character when the going gets tough
Neil Lennon wants his players to show character when the going gets tough
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon has urged his players not to be afraid of having a go at each other when the going gets tough.

Lennon admitted to being dismayed at watching the Easter Road side surrender a two-goal lead against Motherwell last weekend, making his anger known as he publicly castigated them and subjected them to withering criticism.

And he believes a different mindset can prevent Hibs from slipping out of matches as they did in the last half-hour in that match, claiming that none of his players should worry about upsetting a team-mate by getting on their backs during a game. He said: “You saw me play for fifteen years, Roy Keane, Jamie Carragher – I don’t know if it is a generational thing or not or if they are afraid of upsetting their pal. But, for me, if you don’t have a go at somebody it means you don’t care about them, you’re leaving them to it rather than giving them a gee up when sometimes they need it.

“Now there’s maybe ways of putting it across, but some people aren’t as subtle as maybe my good self. That’s what I want from my team because it shows they care about each other. They are not doing it to embarrass anyone. They’re doing it to say ‘c’mon, you can do better here’. It is a subconscious thing and we had a chat about it over the weekend. We can’t allow games to get away from us. Goals change games and, although Motherwell had scored, we were still 2-1 up at home and we had to manage the game better – but we just let it slide. I need someone to take the reins on the pitch as there is enough quality to do that. We have to handle those situations better. I think it is a psychological thing rather than a physical thing.”

Lennon admitted he’d love to have ten clones of himself, joking: “They’d be hard to manage”, but insisted he believes he has the players within his dressing-room capable of doing what is necessary in such situations.

He said: “It’s not just me. I don’t know if it is a dying breed or not, but you are looking for someone to lead, to get somebody by the neck and say that’s not acceptable. Or when we lost that goal on Saturday to give the goalkeeper a shake, that type of thing. Just to liven them up a bit and make them concentrate rather than feel sorry for themselves.

“I’ve got plenty of characters in there. You can hear them in here and on the training ground. It’s just when the going gets a bit rough I want people to stand up.”

Citing how the introduction of veteran striker Grant Holt had changed last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen after Hibs had found themselves two goals down, Lennon went on: “He lifted the team by the scruff of the neck. You need that bit of character and personality, no matter what the tactics or formation are, it’s about managing the game.”

Adamant last weekend’s back four, midfielder Marvin Bartley and striker Anthony Stokes are among those capable of speaking their mind, Lennon said: “Some of the players say ‘sometimes I don’t want to say anything gaffer’, but I encourage it.

“We cajole them every day. I tell them if you’re not happy with someone, have a go at them. Otherwise, it’ll just keep happening again and again. If you shout at your team-mate it might shock them. It’s not to humiliate or embarrass anyone, it’s to get more out of players.”