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Celtic: Former boss Lennon urges spending for Champions League return

Neil Lennon left Celtic in the final months of the 2020-21 season amid the club’s failed bid for a 10th successive title

Celtic must add “more power” and “more physicality” to the squad for their return to the Champions League group stage next season, says former manager Neil Lennon.

Having succeeded Lennon last summer after Celtic’s first trophyless season in 11 years, Ange Postecoglou won a Premiership and League Cup double.

Celtic last featured in the Champions League groups five years ago.

“They’ll need to spend,” Lennon told BBC Scotland Sportsound.

“They need a bit more power and another centre forward. They need a bit more physicality in the team.

“They’re small but quick, dynamic players and use the ball really well. But when you take that huge step up from Scottish football to Europe, they will need more strength in depth for sure.

“Losing Tom Rogic is a blow because he’s a mercurial player so they might need a number 10 type to augment what they have in midfield.

“But they have the potential now to spend decent money because of the huge windfall from getting to the Champions League.”

‘Cypriot officials make Scottish referees look brilliant’

Lennon is relishing his fresh start abroad, taking over as Omonia Nicosia boss in February and steering the club to silverware on Wednesday with victory in the Cypriot cup final.

They “did it the hard way”, after having defender Shehu Abdullahi sent off just five minutes into the goalless draw before prevailing on penalties.

Lennon watched the shootout from the stands after his frustration boiled over – and has revealed his angry rant at the referee was pre-planned.

“I got sent off in the 119th minute,” he said. “I’d said to [coach] Garry Parker, ‘this is going to penalties, here’s the list’.

“He asked where I was going and I said, ‘I’m going to give it to this guy because he’s been doing my nut in all night.’

“We have a problem with referees over here. You think I’m bad, but my goalkeeping coach has been sent off seven times this season.

“It’s quite a regular thing for coaches and assistants, the officials are so pedantic they make the Scottish referees look brilliant.”

The cup triumph guaranteed Omonia group-stage football next season – they will drop into the Europa Conference if they lose their Europa League play-off – and helped vindicate Lennon’s decision to take the job.

“It was a journey into the unknow but has turned out fantastic,” he added. “I always wanted to work in the sunshine and you certainly get that in Cyprus.

“The quality of football is good and the players have been exceptional for me over the past few months.

“I’ve found it really liberating after a difficult time at Celtic. It’s been a real eye-opener for me in a positive way.”

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