Celtic boss Neil Lennon blasts OWN fans in Barcelona comparison amid Rafa Benitez rumours

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Lennon is vying to become permanent Celtic boss for the second time in his career having taken over as interim head coach after Brendan Rodgers’ sudden departure to take the Leicester City job in February.

While the Northern Irishman has since helped steer Celtic to their eighth straight Scottish Premiership title, as well as securing their spot in the Scottish Cup final against Hearts, Lennon has been criticised for an Old Firm loss to Rangers.

The Bhoys were beaten 2-0 by their Glasgow rivals at Ibrox having lost both games on Rangers’ turf in a single season for the first time in seven years.

With doubt as to whether or not Lennon will be trusted with the Celtic reins for the long term, Rafa Benitez is among those to be linked with the Parkhead role. 

The Spaniard is out of contract at Newcastle on June 30 and boasts a silverware-laden CV that includes European pedigree with success on the continent with Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia. 

Jose Mourinho is another high-profile name linked with the job, although the Portuguese’s wage demands would surely rule out any possibility of him taking up a job in Scotland.

Yet Lennon has come out in fierce defence of his credentials as he looks to guide Celtic to a third successive treble, the previous two coming under Rodgers, by beating Hearts in the cup final a week on Saturday (May 25).

The 47-year-old insists Celtic fans need to come to terms with reality given the glory they have enjoyed in recent years and drew comparisons to the situation Ernesto Valverde finds himself in at Barcelona.

Valverde has been the subject of fierce criticism for Barca’s Champions League loss to Liverpool after they were defeated 4-0 in the second leg of their semi final clash having led 3-0 from the first leg despite leading the Catalan giants to back-to-back league titles.

If Barca beat Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on May 25, Valverde will also have led Barca to successive domestic doubles but there are still plenty of calls for him to be sacked.

Lennon declared: “If there are doubts there, they are the ones with the doubts, not me. 

“But there is a new breed of fan on social networks, it’s not the real world. This is the world we’re living in at the minute. 

“Barcelona could win the double but a lot of their fans are calling for the head of Ernesto Valverde because they got knocked out of the semi-finals of the Champions League by Liverpool. 

“Expectations, whatever you want to call it, are sometimes unrealistic. 

“But it’s the modern-day fan. It’s fast-food stuff, they want the next thing very, very quickly and it’s not the real world.

“It’s not my world. I deal in the real world. Theirs is a knee-jerk world of unrealistic expectations.

“You are always looking to prove something to yourself every year or every time you go out there but the level of doubt surprises me.”

Discussing his future this week, Benitez told Sky Sports that he wants to stay at Newcastle after ending his third full season at the club last week by guiding the Magpies to a 13th-placed finish.

He said: ”I would like to stay. I can see the potential of this massive club and hopefully we can do things in the way that would be good for everyone to move forward.

“Maybe together, but at the moment we just keep talking and we will see what happens next week.”

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