Lennon delighted to swap Speedos for Celtic job

By Dom Farrell 27 February 2019 3
Lennon delighted to swap Speedos for Celtic job

Neil Lennon cancelled holiday plans when he got the call to replace Brendan Rodgers as Celtic manager.

The Scottish champions, who are in pursuit of a third consecutive domestic treble, have turned to their former boss Lennon on an interim basis until the end of this season following Rodgers' departure to Leicester City.

The 47-year-old led Celtic between 2010 and 2014, winning three league titles, but expected to be taking in some sunshine rather than facing the media on Wednesday.

"My Speedos were packed, the factor 50 all done and now I am stuck here with you guys! I am sure you are all delighted about that," Lennon said.

"It was a no-brainer, I'm very grateful to be here. The board have put their faith in me to see out the season."

Lennon appreciates his initial job is to make sure a team that excelled under Rodgers continues to run smoothly – unlike in his first Celtic tenure, there are few major issues to address on the field.

"The most important thing is the club. They've lost a manager who will go down as one of the greats. I've got big shoes to fill," Lennon added.

"The team's been unbelievable under Brendan. When I took over the last time the club was in a very different position.

"Tactically, you learn as you go along. I don't have all the answers, and I don't want to be compared to Brendan.

"I know some people will do that as we go along. Brendan has his way and it has been fantastic, I have my way.

"Brendan has certainly raised the bar in terms of trophies. Everyone is talking about 10 [titles in a row], I would just like to get to eight first and then take it from there.

"That is the most important thing to me and I am not looking too far ahead.

"I like to play attacking football, as did Brendan. It is the DNA of the club."

No stranger to confrontation or controversy, Lennon's first game back at Celtic comes away to Hearts – where he was hit by a coin thrown from the crowd during a game when in charge of Hibernian earlier this season.

His former club Hibs are up next at the weekend in the quarter-finals of the Scottish FA Cup, but Lennon insists he has mellowed since his initial stint at Celtic Park.

"I'm not as volatile. I wanted to take on the world when I first took over," he explained.

"You learn from that, you mellow. But I still have that energy and I still have the will to win, which I want to always bring with me.

"I've been on good behaviour this year. I've had no issues with referees or linesmen.

"I like to have that edge. But in terms of my behaviour, I will monitor that as best as I can. It's maturity, it's experience. Obviously you don't want to sit in the stand and not be able to do your job properly - so I'm very aware of that."

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Dom Farrell