Nir Bitton hits out at suggestions Celtic are no longer playing for boss Neil Lennon after squandering two-goal lead in Europa League defeat by AC Milan
- Nir Bitton insists the blame for Celtic’s dismal runs stops with the playing staff
- The Scottish champions have won just two games in their past 11 fixtures
- Neil Lennon’s side squandered a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 against Serie A’s AC Milan
- Defender Bitton now features in the Europa League’s most porous defence
Nir Bitton has slammed suggestions Celtic players have stopped performing for under-fire boss Neil Lennon.
And the Israeli international insists the blame for a dismal run of two wins in 11 games stops with the players rather than the manager.
Speaking after the Scottish champions squandered a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 in Milan, Bitton hit out at claims the Parkhead boss is no longer getting his top stars to run through a wall on his behalf, saying: ‘We always play for the manager. It’s been that way for the seven years I’ve been here.
Nir Bitton has slammed suggestions Celtic players have stopped performing for Neil Lennon
Celtic have picked up just two wins in their last 11 fixtures under their under fire boss
‘It’s nonsense what is being said on the outside. I have never heard anyone say they are not playing for the manager.
‘We all have a good connection with him. At the end of the day we play for ourselves as well. We play for our pride, our families and for the fans.
‘We don’t like to get slaughtered. I don’t think we deserve it, after what we have done, especially in the last four years.
‘But this is football. We need to look forward and create more happy moments for the fans and for the team. I have no doubt we will.’
Converted to a centre-half, Bitton now features in the Europa League’s most porous defence after another four goals took the tally to 17 in five group games.
In all competitions Celtic have now conceded 27 in their past 11 matches, prompting angry supporters to demand a change of manager.
Converted to a centre-half, Bitton (right) features in the Europa League’s most porous defence
‘This is none of our business,’ added the Israeli. ‘We don’t think about it.
‘We are on a bad run of games right now but we all support and play for each other, like it’s always been.
‘Things will change. From the outside it looks like something weird has happened but that’s far from the case.
‘We are strong and we have enough quality in the squad to make it happen — we will make it happen.
‘We win together and we lose together. The manager is the one who gets the stick but we deserve it because we are not performing at the level we want to at the moment.’
Claiming that sieve-like defending is simply a bad run rather than an ongoing issue, Bitton admitted the backline have to improve fast to keep any hope of ten in a row alive.
In all competitions, Scott Brown and his team-mates have conceded 27 in their past 11 matches
‘We need to defend better, not as individuals but as a team,’ he said. ‘We conceded four goals tonight but for a long period of the game we defended well. We were compact and we played against a top side who are top of Serie A.
‘We just need to keep going and believe in ourselves. After that the results will come.’
Sunday’s home league clash with St Johnstone is yet another must-win game for a side 11 points behind Rangers — with two games in hand.
‘We need to win and hopefully we will produce a good performance,’ added Bitton. ‘Obviously, we are disappointed with the result but I felt we played good as a team today against a top side.
‘Again, we conceded four goals and it’s not good enough at this level. It’s not good enough at any level.’