Neil Lennon has spoken for the first time about the massive task he had replacing Brendan Rodgers.
When the former Watford boss decided to dedicate his life to Leicester City Celtic turned to their former boss who quickly cancelled a media trip to Qatar.
Rather than share a studio with Andy Gray Lennon found himself making two trips to Edinburgh to face Hearts and Hibs as the Celtic faithful came to terms with the deception of Rodgers.
Without doubt Lennon is ‘one of our own’ but a sizeable number of fans, probably in the majority crazed a sexy foreign name to maintain and advance the new style coaching that Rodgers had put in place.
Even delivering the Treble Treble attracted critics but as he stressed throughout his time as caretaker Lennon was simply managing someone else’s team. He had very limited opportunities to put his own stamp on the squad.
Discussing the situation that he inherited with the support Lennon said: “Obviously because of the way that I came in in February there was a disconnect and agitation with Brendan leaving. They’d lost a good manager and there was just that feeling of a disconnect between the supporters and the club.
“It was all there again last night, there was a real pride there I have to say. It felt like the old days when I was a player, that huge noise, a rhythm from the crowd. Sending them home happy was as pleasing for me as winning the game.
“I can understand the fans not being too sure and the pedigree of the manager that had left, Brendan, and what he had achieved here. So, obviously there was a lot of uncertainty around myself but I have a lot of belief in myself allied to a real strong support network behind the scenes.
“I knew to keep calm, stay strong in what you believe in. You’ll have a few dips but so far so good, it’s manifest itself in the right way.”
Lennon added: “I have to pay a huge amount of credit to the supporters who were over there last night. It felt, really, for the first time in my second spell, it felt like the real Celtic again. That love, pride and rawness from the crowd, a connection with the players in a European tie.
“They helped the team enormously. We were a goal down early but they just kept the noise and the tempo up for the players, we were able to send them home really happy.”