Omonia Nicosia boss Neil Lennon insists both Celtic and Rangers deserve leeway from punters despite their challenging starts to life in the Champions League.
The former Parkhead boss enjoyed three trips to the last 16 as a player and manager combined but he insists Ange Postecoglou and Gio van Bronckhorst need time to adapt to the world's leading club competition. Rangers have yet to land a point or score a goal but Lennon reckons the real triumph was dumping PSV Eindhoven out in the playoff round. And he has gone to bat for former side Celtic as he talked up their attacking endeavours despite defeats to Real Madrid and RB Leipzig.
Speaking on talkSPORT, he said: "There has to be a reality, every big club, Celtic and Rangers are no different, once you start getting success, the expectation level rises from supporters. And people expect them to go to Anfield and get a result. What you need is your goalkeeper to play well and Allan McGregor was unbelievable, I don't know why he wasn't playing from the start of the season. But, again, that is Gio's decision, he is just an unbelievable goalkeeper.
"I think, at home against Liverpool, they've been great at home in Europe and I think they will give Liverpool a real game. To get through (into tournament proper) was a massive bonus to win in PSV. You have just got to enjoy the ride because it is such a tough group. With Celtic, they've played particularly well in patches, they're finding it difficulty to put it all together, but that is to be expected. Because they are novices at it, it's been a few years since both teams have been playing at this level and it's a huge step up."
The 51-year-old was in a buoyant mood ahead of Omonia's mammoth Europa League encounter with Manchester United on Thursday night. The Cyrpiots are aiming to pile on the misery on Erik Ten Hag's side in the wake of their crushing 6-3 defeat to rivals Manchester City.
He added: "Football is the number one sport here by a mile, they are so passionate about it, you get all the British games here, there is a huge Manchester United following, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal. Even Cypriot football is massive. For Manchester United to come here, it is huge, we could have sold the stadium out three or four times, no problem.
"Tactically, it's improved, the league is quite competitive, it's like the English Championship, it's not like every other major league where two teams can win it, four or five teams can win the league here. We've got a team full of internationals, Brazilians, Hungarians, players who have played against England, they, are not going to be fazed by playing these players.
"We are playing Manchester United, I know they are off a heavy loss at the weekend but they are still full of world class players. We are going to be at our best, we should have a earned a point against Sociedad, which would have been brilliant for us, but we need to get something out the game to give us a foothold in the group."
And talkSPORT host Alan Brazil was determined to get a rise out of sparring partner Ally McCoist, as he pointed out the Shamrock-emblazoned Omonia top the Irishman was wearing. And Lennon gleefully added: "You'll be even happier when you see our kit. Coisty, will be fuming! The day I signed, the chief executive said 'you'll never believe the design for our home kit next season, it's the green and white hoops'.
McCoist then joked if it's Plymouth or Yeovil next due to their green colours, but Lennon wryly quipped he has a bigger target in mind. Lennon joked: "Sporting (Lisbon).
Before returning to the big game against United, he added: "We've got to play the game and not the occasion, we've got some players here who are Man Utd fans, you don't want them starstruck in the tunnel and then losing total focus. We'll try and play all that down as much as possible. I'm a bit old fashioned that way about swapping shirts at half time and all that sort of baloney...I've already put three orders in for Ronaldo's shirt (laughter from studio).
"I hope he (Ronaldo) does play, I hope to see him live one more time, we have to play the game, all the prep work is done, we have a little meeting beforehand, they have to go and express themselves."
And Lennon stressed he is focusing on the here and now as he aims to back up his stirring Cypriot Cup glory last season with more silverware as he brushed aside talk over his long-term future.
He added: "I will assess everything at the end of the season, the priority is to win the Championship and get into the Champions League qualifiers, we won the Cup last season which was a brilliant feeling, winning a trophy in a different country. I'm really enjoying working with these players, we've got a few British boys here, Brandon (Barker) from Rangers, Adam Matthews, Adam's done absolutely brilliantly.
"I have my old mate (Gary) Hooper, we need to get him a little bit fitter, he's just slightly heavier than Alan (Brazil) at the minute. He's fine, once we get him up and running. We are going to play through the World Cup and a couple of players will be going away, Gary didn't get a pre-season but hopefully we will get him fully fit and he'll be an asset to me as well. We've got a good core of young, hungry players and we are going well in the league."