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Lennon will stay the course, says Mjallby

Johan Mjallby says Celtic boss Neil Lennon is in the job for the long-haul despite the furore that has surrounded him since his side's midweek Scottish Cup win over Rangers.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Glasgow
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2011 07:56 AM IST

Johan Mjallby says Celtic boss Neil Lennon is in the job for the long-haul despite the furore that has surrounded him since his side's midweek Scottish Cup win over Rangers.

The Hoops boss has needed police protection since Wednesday's win in an explosive Old Firm derby in which he clashed with Rangers player El-Hadji Diouf during the match and Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist at the final whistle.

Since then it has been revealed that a hoax bomb addressed to Lennon has apparently been intercepted by a sorting office in Ayrshire after a package containing bullets addressed to the Northern Irishman were picked up by post office workers in January.

Lennon has kept a low profile since the Old Firm game, choosing instead to let first team coach Alan Thompson and assistant manager Mjallby attend team press conferences.

But despite the pressure Lennon and his family have been put under Mjallby, speaking after his side's 2-0 win over Hamilton, says Lennon is going nowhere.

"He hasn't said anything to me that he has had enough but like I said he is a strong character and I think he is in this job for the long-run," the Swede said.

"He can certainly take the pressure and I would be very surprised if he walked away.

"I think he is very focussed on trying to improve the team and trying to improve himself.

"Obviously he has been in the limelight all his career more or less as a player as well when he has been up here but he is very good at coping with the pressure.

"I think I have said it many times before that it is going to be an important factor for him in the long-run as a manager.

"He is upbeat and after the Wednesday game the one thing we started to do was to start to concentrate on this game to keep ourselves focussed and the players focussed.

"He is very good at that anyway so he's in a good state of mind and very happy but obviously all the other stuff that is going on behind the scenes is a bit unacceptable when it comes to him.

"I know he is probably used to it but it shouldn't really happen anyway."

Lennon was missing on the sidelines against Hamilton as he began the first of a four-match touchline ban after being found guilty of excessive misconduct following an altercation with fourth official Steven McLean in an away defeat by Hearts in November.

However his side didn't seem to be affected by his absence as two stunning strikes from Kris Commons helped them to a comfortable win over bottom club Hamilton.

Commons, who has netted five times since his move from Derby, said the manager's presence in the dug-out should not make much of a difference to professional players.

"It's always nice to see him on the touchline but in regards to my job and making my contribution to the game it is a personal thing and I always make sure I give a good contribution and I thought I did that," the Scotland international said.

"For me it didn't make a massive difference. I think in the bigger games that we play psychologically having him there in the technical area would be better but it's a professional game and you know your job and you've got to go out on the field and do them."

The win extends their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to eight points over Rangers, albeit the Ibrox club have played three games fewer than their rivals.

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