CHARLIE NICHOLAS has hit out at Neil Lennon and accused the former Celtic boss of “smugness” and “anger” during his double stint in the Parkhead dug-out.
The one-time Hoops goal hero was reacting to images before and after the 1-1 derby draw in the east end of Glasgow when opposing managers Ange Postecoglou and Giovanni van Bronckhorst embraced warmly.
Nicholas welcomed the sportsmanship displayed by the Greek-Australian and the Dutchman with a packed house at Parkhead and an audience of millions worldwide looking on via satellite broadcasts.
The ex-Scotland international forward said: “I loved the show of respect and humility between Ange Postecoglou and Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
TOUCHLINE BUST-UP…Celtic boss Neil Lennon and Rangers striker El Hadji Diouf are separated by Alan Thompson during an explosive derby in 2011.
“The rival Old Firm managers shook hands and embraced on the pitch at the end of the 1-1 draw.
“The gesture reminded me of how Jock Stein or Tommy Burns represented the club. Postecoglou behaves like a proper Celtic manager.
“Van Bronckhorst also deserves enormous credit. Even their comments after the game were great, especially Postecoglou’s. There was none of that smugness and anger we used to get from Neil Lennon.”
The Northern Irishman left the club in February last year after his second stint as team boss and is now in charge of Cypriot outfit Omonia Nicosia.
Nicholas also reckons his old Ibrox foes deserve major applause if they can overcome the 1-0 first leg reversal in Germany when they face RB Leipzig in the Europa League semi-final in Govan tomorrow night and book a place in the showpiece in Seville later in the month.
The former Hoops fans’ favourite, speaking to the Daily Express, continued: “It’s only a matter of time before Celtic reclaim the title, but if Rangers reach the Europa League Final it would be every bit as big an achievement as winning the Premiership.
“I have always said that the measure of a top team is how they fare in Europe.
DERBY EMBRACE…Ange Postecoglou and Giovanni van Bronckhorst exchange thoughts at the end of the 1-1 weekend Parkhead stalemate.
“Rangers deserve huge credit for getting to the last four and this Thursday we will see if they can overturn their 1-0 deficit against RB Leipzig.
“That would definitely be a major feat, but if they pull it off at Ibrox I actually think they’d face an easier task in the Final.
“Taking on Eintracht Frankfurt or West Ham in a one-off clash in Seville to lift the Europa League trophy – what a chance that would be.”
Nicholas added: “I remember travelling to Seville with Celtic in 2003 to watch their UEFA Cup Final against Jose Mourinho’s Porto.
“Most Hoops fans who headed for Spain were of the same mind that this was a step up.
“Celtic were forking out a fortune for players back then and they lost the Final, but look how fondly that Martin O’Neill team is remembered.
“It was an enormous step forward for the club and it would be the same for Rangers.
“Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s credibility would go through the roof.”