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Neil Lennon: These players believe

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Gary Hooper Celtic newsNeil Lennon believes that his side has the killer instinct to be winners.

Less than a year after succeeding Tony Mowbray on a caretaker basis Lennon has transformed the first team squad and instilled the attitude that made him a winner as a player.

“Out of every competition with a whimper,” Lennon said after watching Celtic lose tamely to Ross County in the Scottish Cup ten months ago.

That defeat looked certain to kill stone dead Lennon’s chances of getting the managers job on a permanent basis but after a painful November and December Celtic are in pole position to wrestle the title back from Rangers.

“I felt at times that the mentality of the team last season was weak,” Lennon explained after watching his side beat Rangers 3-0 with just two survivors from the side that folded against Ross County.

“In the corresponding game (against Rangers) last year we had all the play, all the chances, we scored then two minutes later we conceded. The mentality was with Rangers.

“But I think now there is a greater belief among the squad that they can go on and achieve something.”

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Two months ago critics were still carting out the line that Lennon’s side didn’t win the games that mattered highlighting loses in the Scottish Cup, in Europe and in the first derby of the season with Rangers.

The inexperienced/ rookie/ naive/ novice took those criticisms on the chin and hasn’t looked back since the turn of the year.

Celtic have dominated in all three games against Rangers with Lennon varying his tactics on each occasion and coming out on top twice with a Scottish Cup replay against Walter Smith’s side to look forward to in ten days time.

“It was a real acid test, as people were calling it before the game,” the Celtic boss added. ”Could this team get over the line? They answered all the questions today.

“It’s not just Rangers, since the turn of the year we have played very well against all the opposition we have faced.

“Today was a big day in the context of the season and it will give the players a huge lift, a huge shot in the arm, because Rangers are a good team, a strong team, but we played very well.

“For the first time in a while, we are in charge again and it’s in our hands and not theirs. As a team, as a collective, we were excellent today.”

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Celtic youths make ground on Rangers

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3 comments

  • a heaertless gloater says:

    I’ve even traveled through time to gloat!

  • owenroe says:

    O bhoy is this team starting to gel.From a team who were thrashed in europe, to a team of young players who are playing for each other,chasing back,covering each other.

    Credit must go to Lenny and his staff,who have learned by mistakes made in the past,and have now installed a system were every player whos exactly what is expected of him. Players like Kayal,Izzy and Hoopy are all being rightly being singled out for praise.

    I think praise must also go too two unsung unsung heros, Charlie Mulgrew at 6ft4ins has been outstanding as our left sided centre back.

    Playing in this position gives him a little more time to compensate for a lack of pace,which wingbacks certainly require. It will be difficult to dislodge him on present form.

    Mark Wilson is now fully fit and playing in the best form of his career,Cha will also find it difficult to regain his place again,when he gets back to full fitness.

    The two buoys have seized the opportunity with both hands,long may it continue.
    Hail Hail

  • Mojiebhoy says:

    That picture you have of Hooper sums it all up. The look of pure ecstasy!! Gotta keep Hooper, Kayal and Iza for two more years at least to build around them.

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