Celtic manager Neil Lennon has deliberately “sacrificed” himself for his players with his recent rants, according to Kevin Phillips.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-England striker and former Derby County and Stoke City coach explained how the northern Irishman’s seemingly hot-headed venting at his critics could be part of a shrewd strategy.

In a surprise new take, Phillips insisted the Celtic legend is a “clever guy” with “good man-management” techniques aimed at coaxing the best from players.

 

Lennon has come under heavy fire for performances and results on the pitch, as well as a number of off-field decisions, notably the controversial warm-weather training camp in Dubai.

He reacted by angrily hitting out at critics earlier this week, including the Scottish government and former Celtic stars John Hartson and Andy Walker.

Neil Lennon is a clever guy and he might sacrifice himself to get his players winning football matches,” Phillips told Football Insider.

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“He wants them back challenging. What’s happened this week might take the pressure away from the players because everyone is talking about Neil Lennon now, not the players.

“That can sometimes be good man management. Whether it has a knock-on effect, only time will tell.

“You would like to think the players have realised that their manager has stuck up for them.” 

Rangers extended their lead at the Scottish Premiership summit with a 5-0 demolition of Ross County on Saturday.

Steven Gerrard’s side have a 23-point lead over Celtic, who have three matches in hand.

In other news, a £500,000 bid has been tabled for Celtic target as they work on English-club signing.