NEIL LENNON has criticised Hearts supporters for their treatment of former manager Craig Levein, describing the abuse he received prior to his dismissal as ‘appalling’.

The Celtic manager offered support to Levein following his sacking, which came just hours after graffiti was daubed on the ground outside Tynecastle calling for him to be removed from his position.

Lennon pointed to his own experiences at the hands of Hearts fans in the past, with the message ‘Hang Neil Lennon’ spray-painted on a wall near Tynecastle following an Edinburgh derby last year when he was manager of Hibernian, and he has described the abuse being dished out by fans towards players and managers in Scotland at present as ‘vitriolic’.

“It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth the way some people have behaved towards him considering what he’s given to the club,” Lennon said. “I think he deserves a certain amount of respect.

“The job means everything to us – we’re professionals. We live our lives 24 / 7. We give our all and sometimes it doesn’t happen.

“The vitriol at the minute in the game, certainly up here, is appalling I think – the way managers and players are being criticised and abused. It gets very personal. These people don’t know Craig, they don’t know what he’s done, they have short memories.

“The graffiti on Foundation Plaza was appalling. I know from my own experience that they like a bit of graffiti around the place.

“It’s a sign of the times. I think it’s really tacky. I think some of the punditry aimed at Craig has been personal and I think that’s unprofessional. I hope he comes again.

“I don’t know if there was an inevitability about it based on results, but there were mitigating circumstances.”