Let's get back to football
By Grahame Greeen
Updated Saturday, 6th November 2010
Celtic Aberdeen games can be relied upon to take your mind of referees
|On Friday Neil Lennon refused to be drawn on the on-going referees saga but insisted neither he nor his players have done anything wrong. Earlier this week striker Gary Hooper, who was involved in the challenge with Dundee United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis which sparked the controversy, claimed Dougie McDonald should not officiate again in the SPL. Yesterday the club issued a statement supporting the SFA's attempts to reform its decision-making process in light of the incident.
Lennon said: "I don't think we have done anything wrong and the players don't think they have done anything wrong either. All I have been doing is concentrating on the games. I have not mentioned it to the players at all. It is out of our hands at the moment. They are footballers who want to play football and win things and that has been our main focus in the last six months.'' Asked if the issue would help foster a siege mentality at Parkhead, Lennon replied: "I hope so. We are trying to build that anyway and this is a back-handed way of doing it. But we will use it as a motivation for the players.''
Hooper should be fit for the game against Aberdeen as will captain Shaun Maloney after a stomach bug. New signing Olivier Kapo will not be included while Daryl Murphy and James Forrest continue their recovery from ankle injuries.
Lennon's opposite number today, Mark McGhee has called for players and managers to accept decisions in order to ease the pressure mounting on officials due to the ongoing controversy. He said: "I think both clubs, both managers, including myself, including Neil (Lennon), including everyone surrounding it, have a responsibility to try and help the officials. I must be naive but I was so positive in terms of trying to support the referees. I think we all have to take the pressure off them a little bit by backing off, accepting decisions.''
McGhee for the first time suggested his side suffered twice by poor decisions in last weekend's 2-1 loss to St Mirren. But he did not raise his frustrations at the time to avoid controversy. He said: "We had two decisions which all of our boys were saying they were stonewall penalties. I made no case for it whatsoever. We had to leave it alone. There will be mistakes and you have to get on with it. I do think it fairly much evens itself out.'' McGhee praised the job Lennon has done at Parkhead since taking permanent control, having previously offered to put the Northern Irishman forward for the Motherwell job. McGhee' said: "I offered to recommend him to John Boyle (Motherwell chairman) for the Motherwell job. He's gone into the job he maybe wasn't expecting, but he's done brilliantly.''
Turning to today's game McGhee is confident his side have the capability to cause an upset at Parkhead. He said: "The biggest thing for me is a result and I still believe the best route to a result at Parkhead or anywhere is by playing well. Everything in training points to us being up for it, being sharp enough, being fit enough, being willing enough. I firmly believe that this group have enough in them to win football matches. The best team Aberdeen have had over the last 20 years haven't won all that often at Parkhead. But I think we have enough about us to put up some sort of performance which would at least make Celtic earn a result.''
Paul Hartley missed training on Wednesday with flu-like symptoms but trained on Friday and should be ready for today's game, while Yoann Folly recovered from an ankle problem to play in the 2-1 loss at St Mirren last weekend. Andy Considine (knee) and Nikola Vujadinovic (hamstring) are still struggling and Peter Pawlett (broken toe) and long-term casualty Fraser Fyvie are out.