Neil Lennon raging at Celtic snub in Player of the Year

A slap in the face! Lennon's anger at Celtic stars' absence from PFA shortlist

By
Stephen Mcgowan

PUBLISHED:

12:26 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 25 April 2013

Neil Lennon has vowed to boycott the PFA Scotland awards dinner — after branding the absence of any Celtic stars from the Player of the Year shortlist ‘abysmal’.

A vote by the nation’s professional players ahead of the Players’ Union dinner will see Motherwell’s Michael Higdon, Inverness Caley Thistle’s Andrew Shinnie, Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn and Hibernian’s Leigh Griffiths battle it out for the top prize.

Irate that the feats of his players in winning the SPL title and reaching the last 16 of the Champions League have earned no recognition from their peers, however, Lennon — who is likely to be shortlisted for Manager of the Year — will vote with his feet on May 5 by staying away from the annual Glasgow dinner.

Three out of four: (from left) Niall McGinn, Andrew Shinnie and Michael Higdon are up for the PFA Scotland award

Three out of four: (from left) Niall McGinn, Andrew Shinnie and Michael Higdon are up for the PFA Scotland award

‘I won’t go, no,’ said the Celtic boss.

‘The players haven’t discussed that yet. There weren’t many of them in yesterday, so I’ll speak to them tomorrow and see how they feel about it.

‘I’m surprised to say the least. Are you voting for the best player in Scotland or are you voting for the most improved player

‘I have no axe to grind with any of the nominees — I think that they have all had fine seasons.

‘But for none of our first-team players to be on the senior shortlist is bewildering to say the least.

‘I think the outcome of those votes yesterday belittles all those efforts from the players. It is abysmal.’

Not good enough: Neil Lennon has hit out after his Celtic players were overlooked for the PFA Scotland award

Not good enough: Neil Lennon has hit out after his Celtic players were overlooked for the PFA Scotland award

Celtic players have won the PFA Scotland award in the main category in six of the last seven years.
Of the view that their peers have taken his side’s domestic dominance for granted in the absence of Rangers, however, Lennon describes the perceived snub to his team as a ‘slap in the face’.

‘The players are not happy. They feel as if they’ve been slapped in the face, almost. There was a bit of ill-feeling there yesterday,’ he said.

‘I do feel the influence you media guys have — and I’m not blaming you guys — with the nonsense about “one-horse race”, “foregone conclusion” and “no competition” all plays a part in people taking the club, or the players, for granted.

‘Hooper’s got 28 goals this season and
people keep telling me that he’s not having his best season. But he’s
two goals short of 30, which is a pretty decent return for a
24-year-old.’

Young guns: Dundee United pair Gary Mackay-Steven (left) and Stuart Armstrong (right) are nominated with Celtic's Victor Wanyama

Young guns: Dundee United pair Gary Mackay-Steven (left) and Stuart Armstrong (right) are nominated with Celtic's Victor Wanyama

‘We made the last 16 of the Champions League with 10 points, which is a record for a Scottish team.

‘And on a budget which was very limited compared to other clubs in the past — so these players have performed heroically.

‘Semi-final of the League Cup, Scottish Cup Final, championship … I don’t think they could have done much more this season, really, and for that not to be recognised by their peers is very disappointing.’

Aberdeen midfielder Jim Bett was the last non-Old Firm player to collect the accolade, back in 1989-90.

Celtic’s Charlie Mulgrew collected the main prize last year.