Hibs head coach Neil Lennon admits life in football’s goldfish bowl leaves him and other leading figures ‘paranoid’.
Lennon was speaking after footballer turned pundit Jamie Carragher was suspended by Sky Sports after being filmed catching a 14-year-old girl in the face as he spat at a car being driven by her father during an altercation following Liverpool’s weekend defeat by Manchester United.
Lennon insists he doesn’t condone Carragher’s behaviour but he believes the former Anfield defender should be given a second chance.
Describing Carragher’s action as “one moment of madness”, the Hibs boss believes it was the sort of incident which could happen to anyone who is forced to live their life in the goldfish bowl of celebrity, he himself having found himself in difficult situations while going about his daily business.
Revealing that “you become paranoid of everyone”, Lennon said: “First of all, I think it was totally out of character. I am not condoning what he did, but I think everyone deserves a second chance. It’s a split-second, really bad decision he has made. At the end of the day, it’s wrong. He has been totally contrite but it’s difficult to draw a line under it.
“He is going to have to live with that for a little while. But I don’t believe it should cost him his job or his career. It was one moment of madness. It’s difficult to comprehend what was going through his mind, actually doing what he did. It didn’t look good. I do have a tad of sympathy for him but I do hope he can resurrect things for himself and put things right. We have all done things we regret.”
Pointing out that the full story of what led to Carragher acting as he did may yet have to emerge, Lennon claimed there were plenty of examples of those thrust into the limelight finding themselves pushed to the limit by the behaviour of others.
“Everybody says you are role models – I get that,” he said: “But they are human beings as well and they are surely allowed a bit of private time. This is obviously a different thing we are talking about but a lot of people are fair game and it’s not right.
“Look at what happened to Eddie Jones [the English rugby coach] the other week. That’s happened to me many, many times. And not just me. I have talked to Graeme Souness about it. He went through the same thing when he was managing up here. I am sure managers elsewhere go through the same sort of thing. You become paranoid. You have to watch every thing that you do and that’s totally unfair, particularly with high-profile sports personalities.
“If you’re a rock star or an actor you can get away with anything you like basically, there is a bit of an imbalance I think.
“I’ve been out many times with my friends or family and people were taking photographs of you without your consent while you are maybe sitting having a meal or a glass of wine or a beer. That can be rather annoying as well. Next thing you know you are seen in a restaurant with people online or on Facebook, wherever.
“I think it is an intrusion on your private life. You can stop for 100 photographs but the one person you say no to, that’s the one everyone hears about. I don’t know the answer to it. But you can’t react the way he [Carragher] did. I can’t condone that. I can understand up to a point what he was maybe having to put up with, but certainly the reaction I don’t recognise from him.”