Monday, April 19, 2010


Daily Record

Apr 9 2010 Hugh Keevins

Petta:Lennon knows he can't afford another Caley disaster

BOBBY PETTA was ordered to stay in Celtic's dressing room as emotions ran high outside.

Then Petta was told it would only be safe to leave for his car if he was flanked by two burly security guards.

That still didn't prevent the midfielder being booed and spat at by disgusted fans as they tried to come to terms with Celtic losing to Inverness Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup.

Ten years on the memory is still fresh for Petta - who didn't even play the night Celtic were humiliated and John Barnes' card was marked for dismissal.

Now Petta's back in Glasgow ready for Hampden tomorrow and the latest clash between Celtic and Highland opposition.

And past experience tells him the game with Ross County has the potential to be a ticking bomb for his former team-mate Neil Lennon.

Petta said: "If Celtic win the Cup it strengthens Lenny's chance of getting the manager's job.

"If he loses to a First Division side then there's a problem - that should never happen to a club like Celtic.

"But if Ross County don't believe they can cause an upset then they shouldn't bother making the journey down from Dingwall.

"They have the example of Inverness to inspire them.

"And I can see similarities between what's happening at Celtic now and the way the club was a decade ago."
Petta was signed by Barnes and had a first season to forget at Celtic Park.

But when the Caley result meant an immediate sacrifice in the manager's office Martin O'Neill came in and transformed the player's fortunes.

He said: "My last club was Sydney in Australia. And I would get people coming up to me in the street on the other side of the world from Glasgow and telling me I had given them the happiest day of their lives.

"They were talking about the first Old Firm game we played under Martin as manager.

"Celtic won 6-2 and I had a big day up against Fernando Ricksen who was taken off in the first half.

"That's the flipside of being with a club like Celtic and having fans so passionate. One minute you're running to your car with minders, the next you're a hero. It's frightening when you're on the way down and thrilling when you're moving in the opposite direction.

"Lenny knows all about that side of life in Glasgow. It shows great character on his part to live in the city and want to be Celtic's manager when he's had so many well-publicised problems."

Petta's previous brush with humiliation - being an unused sub on the night Caley Thistle won 3-1 at Celtic Park - has given him an insight into what he'd like to see Celtic do at Hampden tomorrow.

He said: "They must set their stall out early and go for quick goals to make sure there will be no embarrassment.

"A new manager's all about a fresh start for everyone and Celtic have to dominate the opposition on that big park at Hampden."

Petta well remembers the fans' reactions 10 years ago.

He said: "My abiding memory of what was the worst night of my life is the way emotions ran so high. It wasn't a nice night for anyone associated with the club.

"Anything's possible in cup football. But Lenny's started off with two wins out of two.

"I don't think he'll have to be as quick to his car as I was after the cup -tie I'll never forget."
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