Neil Lennon: Hibs lost focus last weekend and I’m responsible

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Neil Lennon believes the fallout from the controversial Edinburgh derby caused he and his players to lose their focus in the build-up to last weekend’s defeat by St Johnstone.

The Easter Road side lost 1-0 at home to the Perth side on Saturday, three days after the goalless draw against Hearts which was marred by some unsavoury incidents, including Lennon being struck by a coin thrown from the stand.

Neil Lennon admits last week was tough for his players

Neil Lennon admits last week was tough for his players

On the eve of the Saints game, Lennon stated that he was the victim of racism in Scotland, and the manager feels that the incessant chat about what had occurred at Tynecastle had caused his team to take their eye off the ball.

“I take responsibility for the defeat last week,” he said. “I felt for the players last week with all the hoo-ha going on in the background, they’re not used to that. You could tell there was a lack of focus, not just from the players but also the manager. I don’t want to be bringing that sort of stuff to a club like Hibs so I’ll take responsibility for what happened last weekend.”

Asked if recent events had caused him to consider his future as Hibs manager, Lennon said: “I’m not answering that. I’m still here. I will make that decision but at the moment I am just focusing on a very important game (against Aberdeen).”

Debate has continued to rumble on about the incidents at Tynecastle, with some placing the blame at Lennon’s door for inciting the home support. The manager was in no mood to get involved in spats with individuals yesterday, although he was keen to point out that he feels the reaction to his celebration of Hearts’ disallowed goal has been in stark contrast to that which met Jose Mourinho’s ear-cup goading of Juventus fans after Man United’s Champions League win in Turin on Wednesday.

“They’re pundits - they’re allowed to express an opinion,” he said. “I don’t have to agree with it. They’ve every right to voice their opinion whether or not I agree with it. But I don’t like this ‘holier than thou’ attitude because we sometimes do things emotionally in split seconds. Did you see Mourinho last night? Is there any difference? And the way that’s portrayed in the mainstream media is fun. I understand why he did it but it’s double standards and it smacks of hypocrisy.

“Do I get treated differently or portrayed differently? Yeah, obviously. It’s there in two incidents. One’s seen as goading, inciting a riot, and the other’s fun, but they’re exactly the same thing.”