Neil Lennon was LUCKY to avoid the sack after last week's battering in Prague.

That's the view of his former Celtic teammate Chris Sutton. The Englishman watched, like everyone else, in shock as Sparta thrashed the Hoops 4-1 for a second game running in a Europa League group now dead and buried.

Sutton has backed his old pal in recent weeks despite a string of poor results and dropped points, but the outspoken pundit could not defend Celts as they looked sluggish and disjointed. And he reckons the blame - as it always has - lies with the manager. "Neil Lennon is extremely fortunate to have survived Prague," Sutton said. "It was lamentable and it was embarrassing.

"Celtic can’t defend and you can’t defend Neil or the players. It was diabolical. Full stop. The buck stops with the boss. That never changes in football. The Europa League campaigns are a clear statement that Celtic are regressing and Neil carries that can.

"It gives me no pleasure to criticise the workings of a friend and a former team-mate, but you can’t disguise the truth. Neil is in big trouble. It’s staring everyone in the face. He can’t get things going, he can’t get his team to do basic stuff and he seems lost.

"His players are letting him down badly. Some of the individual performances and collective efforts have been appalling. This is a group of players who were defeating Lazio home and away last year to make the last 32. Eight of the Rome starters started in Prague.

"Neil might not be getting things right, but he’s not getting everything wrong, either. Whatever is happening with those boys, it’s making the manager’s job 100 times harder."

Sutton also called for chief executive Peter Lawwell to end his silence and take some of the heat away from Lennon. "I don’t think it’s over the score to suggest Prague might have been the end of the road," he added in his Daily Record column.

"On a human level, I’m glad it’s not because I don’t like seeing anyone lose a job in any walk of life. But, at this stage, Peter Lawwell really has to come out and say something because this malaise can’t continue. Neil spoke yesterday about the hierarchy being supportive, but it would be nice to actually hear it.

"Tell everyone categorically and publicly that Neil is Celtic’s man and they are 100 per cent confident and committed to the fact he’s going to turn this around. It can’t drift. Neil didn’t seem to appreciate being asked again about the board’s backing after the game in Prague, but it was a natural question. They’d been embarrassingly knocked out of Europe, lost 13 goals in four group games to supplement poor patchy form domestically.

"And it’ll keep getting asked if things don’t change. It’s why Lawwell should speak out. Neil shouldn't have to be dealing with that. He’s got enough on his plate with the team. Lawwell should be taking the situation by the horns because, as it stands, it will drift one game to the next. Another bad result away from the same old discussions."