Ryan Porteous has launched an impassioned defence of Neil Lennon and dismissed any suggestion that the Hibs manager has lost the dressing-room.
The Easter Road side sit eighth in the Premiership after failing to win any of their last seven matches. Some disgruntled supporters are starting to question Lennon and whether he is still able to motivate his players, but defender Porteous claimed such speculation is “nonsense” as he insisted it would be a disaster for the team if Lennon – whom he described as “the best manager we’ve had in years” – was to depart Hibs.
“You can’t not have respect for someone who has done it all as a player and manager,” said Porteous.
“We’re really lucky to have the gaffer. A lot of people are saying he’s lost the changing-room, but that’s nonsense. I think the main thing is that we don’t lose him because he’s the best manager we’ve had in years and it would be terrible if we lost him.”
Porteous explained that Lennon was livid with his team’s display as they were held to a 2-2 draw by lowly St Mirren at Easter Road on Wednesday, but the defender insists the players have no problem with the manager giving them a dressing down in such circumstances.
“Everyone knows that the gaffer is a passionate guy and wants to win every game and when it’s not going our way he’ll go through us,” said Porteous.
“That’s everything we deserve. All the boys want to win and it’s bitterly disappointing when we don’t. The criticism from the manager is fair. Maybe he has been playing it down for the last couple of weeks, trying to get our confidence up. But there is no excuse for that and it is all our fault. We’ve got no-one else to blame apart from ourselves.
“He said to us before the (St Mirren) game and at half-time that there is only going to be one team that costs us the game and it would be ourselves, and that’s what happened.
“I don’t think anyone will take it (the criticism) to heart. We know the gaffer knows best and he’s doing it to better us, he’s doing it because he knows we’re better players but just not showing it.
“Everyone listens to what he says and no-one answers back because he knows best, I don’t think we’ve earned the right to answer him back. Maybe if we’re sitting, second, third or fourth we can answer him back because we’re doing well but when we’re not doing well, he knows best. We have to listen to him and take it on board.”
Porteous agrees Lennon is entitled to be frustrated by the fact players who have delivered for him previously haven’t been able to get any consistency of performance recently.
“At the start of the season we were flying and that’s something we need to get back to,” said the defender.
“That’s probably what is bugging the gaffer the most because he knows we’re good players but we’re not showing it just now. He can’t keep the same team if there is no consistency. There are only a handful of players who have been consistent week-in, week-out and we need to get that.”