NEIL LENNON yesterday launched a passionate and heartfelt defence of Scottish football and also took aim at those who cannot see past the apparent wonders of the game in England.

Not for a minute was the Hibernian manager claiming the Ladbrokes Premiership is anything other than it is; however, he made the point that this season has given us, the viewing public, great entertainment.

And, hey, some of it has even been on the pitches.

Lennon, deservedly named manager of the month for October, cannot for the life of him get his head around this fairly recent phenomenon wherein so many English pundits feel the need to run down Scottish football.

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Because, as Lennon himself said when it was put to him, for all the Premier League’s wealth, there are more than a few bad games.

His take on some, not all, of the fare served in England was: “Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. Over the weekend, there were three or four 1-0s. I watched some games in the Championship. The football is eye-bleeding.

“I have seen some really good games up here. Some clubs get the crowds. Some teams don’t but they still hold their own in the league. I find the competition and the quality of the games really refreshing this year.

“We don’t need people from down south lecturing us on how the game is up here. We know where we are. We know the reality of it.

“There is still that rawness. There is still that passion. For me, it’s still a working-class sport up here. You don’t have too many prawn sandwich brigades, which is great because they kill the soul of the game.

“I’ve been to a lot of grounds in England where the atmosphere is just awful. You get loads of pseudo intellectuals in the crowd now who have done their coaching courses and think they’re the next Wenger, the next Mourinho, and they are sitting there lecturing people on the game.

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“And they haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about.

“If there could be an injection of money, you would see a huge difference in the Scottish game, but it is doing best, and it is improving.”

Only the coldest hearted capitalist would look at what is going on in England and not think; “The amounts of money is obscene.”

Scottish football is running on tick for the most part, which is our biggest problem. As soon as a player starts to impress then nine times out of ten they are off and the selling club struggles to pay for an adequate replacement.

Lennon said: “We lost Jason Cummings. We held off bids for John McGinn, which was good from our point of view. But there is an inevitability that, if John keeps progressing the way he is progressing, one day he will go. You expect that and understand that. It is just money.

“When I first came into the game 17 years ago, Celtic could compete. I was playing Premier League, as were Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson, John Hartson, who were top, top players. The money has just got away from us. It’s impossible to compete at that level.

“If you look at the top six in the Premier League and look at the teams underneath, from Burnley downwards, Celtic and Rangers are far bigger clubs than those.

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“They just don’t have the financial support that those clubs get. It is difficult to accept at times but that’s just the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Lennon and his players are doing their bit to lift Scottish football. Hibs have been, as many expected they would, an excellent addition to the Premier League.

The Northern Irishman in 18 months at Easter Road has won promotion, reached two semi-finals, taken a point from Celtic Park, three from Ibrox, beaten Hearts twice, his team sit third in the table and play good football.

So, what would be an improvement?

Lennon said: “Beat Celtic. That would be one of the games you can look and say, ‘can we do it?’ We played well in the two games against Celtic so far this season.

“And then get into the bracket of Aberdeen and Rangers because I think those are the next two strongest after Celtic who are a juggernaut.

“There is more to come from Rangers, once they get a manager in, as they have a strong squad there. Aberdeen are really consistent and so the rest of us are fighting to get into that bracket and we want to be at the forefront at that, and we’re doing okay at the minute.

“December is a huge month for us. There are six or seven games in that month and we’ll see where we are after that.

“We’ve had a look at all the teams and played pretty well against them all. Nothing seems to faze them right now.”