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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: CELTIC LEGEND PRAISES LENNON’S METHODS, SUTTON’S SIDESWIPE, HECKY IN WAITING GAME

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CELTIC legend Davie Hay has hailed boss Neil Lennon for the way he gets the best out of his players.

Olivier Ntcham looked to be on his way in the summer and there were recent revelations the club had allegedly pointed him in the direction of Marseille.

But the French midfielder is now reaching the levels that saw the Hoops pay Manchester City £4.5million in the summer of 2017. He stuck away a Goal of the Season contender in the Betfred League Cup quarter-final win over partick Thistle last week.

He netted a cheeky second in the 5-0 romp and was in the starting line-up for Hibs at Easter Road although he was withdrawn in the second-half as the champions were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Former Hoops manager and player Hay, now a club ambassador, told the Evening Times: “As well as praising the entertaining style that Neil Lennon has his team playing in, a lot has to be said too for his man-management.

“I have touched upon the re-emergence of Olivier Ntcham, but the form he is showing at the moment wouldn’t have been possible without the expert way that Lennon handled his situation in the summer.

“Ntcham made some really ill-advised comments in the French press, although he might fall back on that age-old excuse of them being lost in translation, and I’m sure that the Celtic manager didn’t miss him when he reported back to Lennoxtown for pre-season.

“But, after a spell out of the team, he as really come to the fore again of late and is making a really positive impact.

“There are a lot of managers who would have ostracised Ntcham after what he said, but Lennon has integrated him back into the fold, and as his wonderful double against Partick Thistle showed, he has a lot to offer Celtic.”

CHRIS SUTTON has aimed a sideswipe at Manchester United and Arsenal after last night’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

The former Celtic striker, now a BT Sport and media pundit, claimed both English giants would struggle to finish ahead of the Hoops and Rangers in Scotland.

United and Gunners spent large chunks of the game nullifying each other and only goals from Scotland international midfielder Scott McTominay for the home side and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s leveller brightened proceedings.

Sutton tweeted: “Premier League football at it’s very best tonight…”

But an English supporter hit back: “They’d still beat Celtic and Rangers”.

Sutton replied: “Would struggle to finish in Scottish Prem top 2 on that showing…”

PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM, the Hibs boss sent to the stand during a flashpoint moment in the 1-1 draw with Celtic at Easter Road at the weekend, is waiting to find out whether he will receive a touchline ban.

The Englishman reacted angrily after a couple of decisions led to the champions equalising after the fourth official, Nick Welsh, informed referee Kevin Clancy of a trip from Tom James on James Forrest. The Hoops started with a free-kick and the ball was eventually headed in by Ryan Christie.

Heckingbottom let Walsh know he held him responsible for the goal after kicking and water bottle in frustration which struck the standside ref’s assistant and Clancy showed the Hibs gaffer the red card and banished him to the stand.

Under the new yellow and red card system for managers introduced this season, there is no automatic ban on censure.

Compliance officer Clare Whyte will review the footage before announcing a decision that could see Heckingbottom serve a touchline ban.

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Editor

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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