Hibernian: Neil Lennon says finishing second would be like winning title

Hibernian beat Aberdeen 2-0 at Easter Road in February
Hibernian beat Aberdeen 2-0 at Easter Road in February

Hibernian finishing second in the Premiership "would be as good as winning the title" for the Easter Road club, says manager Neil Lennon.

The Edinburgh side visit Aberdeen on Saturday, three points behind in the race to finish runners-up behind champions Celtic.

Rangers are also above Hibs, on goal difference, with three games to go.

"If we can finish second it would be an incredible achievement for a promoted team," said Lennon.

"We can't win the title unless we get resources on a par, or close, to Celtic.

"We understand that, so can we finish best of the rest? Is it exciting for our fans? Yes it is. Is it exciting for me and the players? Yes.

"It's our first season back [in the top flight] and [the players] have performed unbelievably well.

"Before the [Premiership] split, I thought we'd need four wins out of five to make second. Now that might not be enough. We're just taking each game as it comes."

'Hardest game' of the split

Hibs were on the wrong end of a 4-1 defeat on their last visit to Pittodrie
Hibs were on the wrong end of a 4-1 defeat on their last visit to Pittodrie

Hibs stretched their unbeaten run to 11 games with a 5-3 home win over Kilmarnock last weekend.

Lennon's men have won seven in a row at Easter Road and have lost just twice away from home in the Premiership this term.

One of those reverses came at Pittodrie in mid-December when Gary Mackay-Steven scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory for Derek McInnes's Dons.

"We're looking forward to the game but we know how difficult Aberdeen, particularly at home, can be," said Lennon.

"We singled this game out as probably being the hardest going into the split and it looks like it will go that way.

"Aberdeen are one of the mentally stronger teams and they have a top manager.

"But the players are finding a really good level at the moment. That can all flip on one game, we know that, so it's trying to keep them in that mood, that mindset."

Murty 'hung out on his own'

Hibs end the season at home to Rangers, after a midweek derby at Tynecastle, and Lennon described the removal of Ibrox boss Graeme Murty on Tuesday as "scandalous".

He explained that he had called Murty this week to offer "a few words of encouragement".

"He's been hung out on his own," said Lennon. "I've been in that sort of position myself at Bolton when there is no leadership or structure.

"There is a structure at Rangers but there seems to be a lack of real genuine support. When it really got tough a lot of people turned their back on him, which I found unpalatable.

"It was a very difficult position he was put in and even an experienced guy would find that situation very difficult."

Murty was "relieved of his duties" following last Sunday's 5-0 defeat at Celtic, which came a fortnight after a 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to their Glasgow rivals.

"You can't write Rangers off," said Lennon. "They will always be capable of winning games but they have obviously been damaged heavily, psychologically."

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