Neil Lennon reacted with characteristic anger to Celtic's 2-1 defeat at Motherwell last night and warned some of his players they will be moved out of the club if he suspects them of showing complacency in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The champions are 19 points clear with only nine league remaining but they lost to Motherwell for the first time in exactly two years. Lennon – usually at his most outspoken after poor displays – tore into his players. Georgios Samaras, Kris Commons, Victor Wanyama, Tom Rogic and Adam Matthews were all brought back into the team last night but Lennon said some of those who had nagged him to be picked had let him down badly at Fir Park. Only Gary Hooper and James Forrest escaped criticism.

When asked if they had been complacent, he replied: "You tell me? If that's the case then they won't play here. And they won't play here again. They can go and find another club and I'll play the kids. If they waste any game at this club – and I detect that in their play and it was apparent in some cases – then that gives me a lot to think about. I'm pretty angry with some of the performances tonight.

"Some of them need to take a look at themselves and maybe I do as well.

"Did I make too many changes? I don't know. But I came here to win the game and I'm bitterly disappointed that we didn't. I am raging. I made changes with other games in mind but I still felt I put a strong team out. People keep on at me, wanting to play, but they got an opportunity tonight and they didn't play. So it seems to me if we leave Gary Hooper out of the team then we suffer. We brought Hooper on and created more chances in the final 15 minutes than we did in the whole game. We were really poor for the second goal, it was a comedy of errors and I can't accept that. The frontline in the first half – apart from James Forrest – was insipid."

Stuart McCall was delighted with his side's response after losing heavily to Ross County at the weekend. Chris Humphrey and Michael Higdon scored either side of Samaras's equaliser.

"I don't think we had a failure tonight," said the Motherwell manager. "Before the game we wanted enthusiasm, work-rate, desire, and to have a go, and then, hopefully, in the final third we would have some bits of magic. They showed great character after the setback of Celtic's equaliser. I am really proud with the performance."

"I don't think the position is that important at the moment, because one week you can be second and the next week you are sixth. It was the fact we got three points, which probably no-one else expected. Before the game I'd have taken a point, without a doubt. We played a really attacking side tonight."