NEIL LENNON insists he treated on-loan West Brom forward Oliver Burke “too well at times”.

And the Celtic manager hit back at bizarre criticism from the Midlands club over the Hoops’ treatment of the Scotland international as “unprofessional and totally unjustified”.

Former boss Brendan Rodgers arranged a six-month temporary transfer for Burke in January and the pacy frontman made 19 appearances with eight of those coming during Lennon’s reign when he took over as interim gaffer in February.

The Championship side’s technical director Luke Dowling said the club’s £15million player wouldn’t “be going anywhere near Celtic with the current manager”.

Lennon, though, believes he was generous with the game time Burke was given under his leadership although he left the striker out of his Scottish Cup Final squad against Hearts when the Hoops sealed the historic treble treble.

Asked if Burke had raised any issues in person, Lennon, speaking to Sky Sports News, responded: “Not that I was aware of. We treated him very well.

“He played a lot of games. Maybe in hindsight I was too good in treating him too well at times, compared to the rest of the group.

“I have no idea where this sort of tirade has come from. This could have been dealt with privately and professionally.

“As a club, we have to defend ourselves robustly because it is totally unacceptable.”

HAPPIER TIMES…Oliver Burke reels away after scoring one of his four Celtic goals.

In response to Dowling’s comments, Celtic released a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday, defending Lennon, describing it as “ridiculous and completely inaccurate”.

Lennon added he was not hurt by the criticism, but “surprised” and was disappointed with the manner it was aired.

He added: “Without any communication beforehand. The person has come out and publicly condemned the club and myself.

“I think it is unprofessional and totally unjustified, as well.

“I don’t know where the justification for those comments came from. Obviously, we were very robust in our response.

“I don’t know who the individual was who was criticising either my style of management or the club in the treatment of Oli Burke. But there is just no foundation or evidence for that whatsoever.”

Burke scored four goals for the Hoops, all during Rodgers’ time at the club.

A poor performance in the loss against Rangers at Ibrox and a lacklustre 45-minute display in the last league game of the campaign against Hearts put paid to any chance of the winger featuring at Hampden as the curtain came down on another memorable season.


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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