NEIL Lennon is excited. This is not the emotion most Celtic supporters feel at the moment.

He is also calm if frustrated, understanding and disappointed. Most of all, the Celtic manager has some perspective at the end of a week in which not a lot went right for him.

Lennon doesn’t do social media, which is a good thing. The anger will pass but bloggers, tweeters and posters have gone in with two-footed tackles on one of their own. There are Celtic supporters out there fearing the worst for this season when just a few days previously predicted a glorious nine in a row.

Some of the reaction is to be expected. Some of it is immature ranting from Celtic fans of a certain age who can’t quite believe that following a football team can, every so often, end in defeat.

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It is Lennon’s job to remain calm when in the middle of heads being lost left, right and centre. And while it won’t go down well with many, he reminded those who have lost hope that, in fact, his Celtic team are hardly the worst ever seen – a bizarre accusation this correspondent heard no Tuesday night from at least one malcontent.

Lennon said: “I am excited about this team despite losing to Cluj. Domestically, it’s certainly the best start I have ever made as a manager.

“Albeit it’s only two games but we had also been very good in the European games. We just had one bad half of football and it’s cost us. We need to analyse it and look at where we went on and improve on it.

“There are fine lines. Everything in football can flip very quickly. Things can be going well, and it can go the other way. Obviously we’ve had the two days of hysteria and vitriol, which you have to accept.

“But there has to be a sense of perspective. When we were winning 7-0 and 5-2, I wasn’t saying this is a greatest team in the world. I was happy but not too happy. Now we are out of the Champions League it’s a huge body blow, but you can’t let it fester.

“We have to move forward to the other competitions we are involved in. While you may be down and feeling sorry for ourselves for a couple of days, there is a lot still to aim for I am excited about this team. There’s real talent. For half an hour on Tuesday some of the football was breathtaking.”

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It helps that Lennon has been here before as player, coach and manager. Defeats are treated as a tragedy.

As he admitted: “Yeah, you expect it. There is a little bit more hysteria these days. You have to keep a level head and a sense of perspective. The analysis of the game is that we didn’t play well in the first half and then we were outstanding in the second half.

“We got ourselves in the lead twice and then just gave Cluj oxygen - particularly at 2-1 when we were pretty rampant. So we have to marry the two halves together more.

“I think we have the makings of a very good team here. Up until Tuesday, we were all delighted with the start we had made. This is a setback - we have to lick our wounds, come back and keep improving. Because we still have a bit to do.

“If you look at third goal, we were in good positions. It’s not like we were getting cut open on counter attacks or under waves and waves of pressure. We were just a little bit lazy. The first goal, we didn’t stop the cross. The second goal is a freak. The third, we could stop the shot quicker.

“So, yeah, maybe our game management could have been better. We were also thinking of changes at 2-1 and 3-2. When they got it back to 3-2, we were thinking ‘just settle a bit - get another pass in here or there’ But we just kept giving the opposition oxygen which was disappointing.”

Lennon doesn’t pant the whole picture here of Tuesday night but his point, made after the match, about players not getting out to block crosses nor failing to track back, the simplest acts asked of a professional footballer, rightly highlighted Celtic’s inability to carry out plan A.

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Asked if that drove him daft, Lennon admitted: “Absolutely - it’s basics. We didn’t do the basics at important moments, the nuts and bolts of the game. It’s the platform you build a team from, then you let the flair players express themselves.

“I understand people wanting to look at the Callum McGregor situation - that wasn’t the reason we lost the game. It didn’t really have a huge bearing. He set up the first goal, he almost scored in the second half. He played quite well.

“In terms of being on top of the game, we were 2-1 and 3-2 up in the second half. At that stage the selection is justified.”

Lennon’s greatest result as a manager, that win over Barcelona, was based on everyone working hard to close down a team in a different stratosphere from Cluj.

The question which had to asked therefore is why these basics were lacking on Tuesday night.

Lennon explained: “That was down to the psychology of the game. They knew what they were going into that night. They’d experienced playing Barca two weeks previously.

“We knew what to expect against Cluj but we didn’t turn them enough and play in their half. We didn’t work their goalkeeper enough and we conceded a poor goal, so we gave them a rattle at half-time.

“The response was fantastic. We have players who are playing outstanding football right now. Ryan Christie, Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest are three - and we are scoring a lot of goals.

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“I don’t know if you want to call it a freak result or say we got what we deserved, and were architects of our downfall. People say, ‘Learn from it’ but we shouldn’t have to learn to do the basics right. That should be set in stone.

“I’m not going to sit and be critical of the players because the reaction every time I have asked for one, has been outstanding.”

This is all well and good, and probably correct, but Lennon knows he has some making up to do to a hurting support.