At the start of 2019 Neil Lennon was about to mutually consent with Hibs. The Edinburgh side published a glowing tribute to their former manager as they cleared up the usual toxic tales surrounding the Irishman.
As he closes his diary on an incredible year Lennon can look back on winning three domestic trophies against the might of a Liverpool legend and the greatest turn-around in his CV and image imaginable.
Holding the fort on a group of players used to the touchy-feely management of Brendan Rodgers surrounded by wonderful human beings was never going to come naturally to the former Celtic skipper but as the year closes there has been a turnaround in the make up of the Treble winning squad.
Lennon is a winner with that message drilled into his players. There have been some stunning performances, some dodgy ones too but through them all there is a winning streak in every player that pulls in the jersey.
Last week Scott Brown was the hero against Hamilton Accies, at Hampden Fraser Forster put up the shutters with Callum McGregor witnessing the makeover hand.
The midfielder came to the fore during the Rodgers years, without skipping a beat he is more than signed up to the ways of his new boss who has retained the levels of success in a manner very different to the man now dedicating his life to Leicester City.
Speaking to The Sun McGregor said:
I think the gaffer’s shown his quality in abundance. He had such a big task when he came in but he’s a winner, he handled that, and he galvanised the group when it happened. He came in and was asked to win two trophies. And he did that.
Now he’s added another, on a day when people were maybe looking at him and asking if he could do it. The gaffer shows that winning mentality within the group. You can see in the performance of the players exactly what the manager is.
All his attributes were shown in that display in the final last Sunday. His standards are super high every single day. He comes out to training, and if one or two are off, he stops it.
He just tells us we’re off it, makes us get back on it. That’s the way we work. We don’t have an off day. We don’t have an easy day. Every day we’re trying to get better.
Neil Lennon is the man who steps in and makes that happen. Those are the standards he drives every day, along with Broony and certain others.
We’ll probably get to many more finals and never play that badly again but it shows the character in this team. The treble probably gets overlooked as we’ve been so dominant.
McGregor is expected to be left out of the squad that flies to Romania today, saving his energies for the five domestic matches before enjoying a brief but well-earned January break.