Neil Lennon

Neill Lennon, the new man at the top of Celtic FC, will be encouraging his players to directly challenge officials in the upcoming season.

The 38-year-old has been scathing in his criticism of last season’s refereeing has stated his belief that a more confrontational stance is taken to prevent referees from making further bad calls.

The defensive midfielder had won 40 caps for Northern Ireland before taking up the Celtic job, one of the biggest in Scottish football.

He’s also enjoyed a distinguished club career played for Nottingham Forest and Manchester City.

A series of calls last season reportedly infuriated management at the club.

During the Glasgow derby at Parkhead in January, a goal by Marc-Antoine Fortune was ruled out after referee Steve Conroy deemed that the Celtic striker had fouled Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGrego while a couple of penalty appeals were denied in last season’s Old Firm clash by match official Craig Thomson.

Celtic skipper Scott Brown was sent off for tangling with Kyle Lafferty also last season. After video analysis Celtic officials were reported to be extremely unhappy with that decision also.

The new manager has also gone on the record saying that last season’s decisions were abysmal: "In the high-profile games, the Rangers games in particular. The club were justified in making a point about it [the decisions]," said the manager.

"Any challenges that were a wee bit heavy, there were two or three of us around the player who did it. There was a togetherness and I want to see that again. I want to see them sticking up for each other.

"They did that in the last few games. That's what teams are about - looking after each other on the pitch and having a good spirit off it."

He said  "It's important; it's a basic thing in the game and it's difficult because in the modern game you've got all these different coaches. But we'll try to develop the players and make sure there's an affinity with the club."